Albert Pinkham Ryder, Resurrection
Life is on our side. The silence and the Cross of which we know are forces that cannot be defeated. In silence and suffering, in the heartbreaking effort to be honest in the midst of dishonesty (most of all our own dishonesty), in all these is victory. It is Christ in us who drives us through darkness to a light of which we have no conception and which can only be found by passing through apparent despair. Everything has to be tested. All relationships have to be tried. All loyalties have to pass through the fire. Much has to be lost. Much in us has to be killed, even much that is best in us. But Victory is certain. The Resurrection is the only light, and with that light there is no error.
Thomas Merton in a letter to Czeslaw Miłosz, as quoted in The Merton Journal 22.1 (2015)
late in evening the sky bruised
ringed them ugly and full
the sea moiled, black with heaving
feverish and wild
the rimless sky flickered with lightning
thunder padded and prowled
the wind woke, came like a beast
pawing this way and that
and the boat plunged and heaved
they held on in the scream of the sea
praying that as Christ had once calmed them
the waters might hear him again
then one of them looked and saw
in the midst of the worst of the night
a star chinking like gold
he pointed, they followed his arm
the storm did not lessen the least
but their faith was made of new fire
they fought like men unafraid
and the morning was born at last
This is an extract from Kenneth Steven’s wonderful sequence of poems, entitled A Song among the Stones, which tells the dangerous journey of four Celtic monks on their way from Iona to Iceland.
Here’s another insightful quote from John Swinton’s Raging with Compassion: Pastoral Responses to the Problem of Evil:
Sin, evil, and suffering … are secondary realities, intruders into the goodness of the world. As such they require, indeed demand, to be resisted in faith and hope rather than resigned to with stoicism and despair. Goodness is our original state …. The turn towards evil drags us into a state that is alien to the desired purposes of the creator. The presence of evil separates us not only from God, but also from our true selves. As such it needs to be strongly resisted. Resistance relates to the faithful participation in Christ’s redemptive movement in the world now and in the future. Evil is that which blocks and fragments Christ’s work of reclamation, restoration, and redemption and prevents human beings from experiencing the loving presence of God in and for the world.
God showed us in Christ a love that abides, that perseveres, that remains present to us, however bad things are, for however long it takes; a love that sticks around, a love that stays put, a love that hangs on. … In the resurrection, God made clear to us in Christ that nothing – neither death nor life – can separate us from God’s love. And in the sending of the Spirit, God promised to be with us always, to the end of time, and to empower us to be Christ for others and find Christ in them, beyond our own strength and courage.
Samuel Wells and Marcia A. Owen, Living without Enemies: Being Present in the Midst of Violence
Without an alternative people, among whom inequality and violence disappear, Jesus would not be able to be the Christ, the Messiah. The existence of this people is the convincing proof that Christian faith is not mere illusion, but is rather a valid affirmation about the true Messiah, dead but risen, and reigning today … The truth of our statements about Jesus as the Christ or the Redeemer must be based on the very existence of a redeemed people, as even Nietzsche insisted. … Does there exist now in history a people in whom the blessings of the messianic era are already being realized? … Is the Christian project of social change really possible in our time?
Thus Antonio González Fernández in his thought-provoking book God’s Reign and the End of Empires.