Samuel Privara SJ: There is no life without death

LISTEN – Samuel Privara SJ: There is no life without death

These days we celebrate the greatest Christian holidays, the Easter holiday. In the liturgical readings we hear accounts of the first, often still tentative, indications that something unusual has happened. But let us take a good look at the events of Easter. In recent days we have heard stories from the Old and New Testaments in individual readings, which seem to present two – at first glance – contradictory sets of attitudes, motivations and values. We record stories of a servant of God from Isaiah who is tired, humiliated, beaten, who suffers. Many people believe then and now that this servant, who found himself in contempt of all who seem to have been defeated, was not recognized by the people that he must have been in great adversity towards God. Opposed to the mentioned paradox is the mention that this servant was obedient, dying, but at the same time he constantly believes and hopes in the Lord, even though his presence is not actually seen and felt. The climax is the radical and unexpected reversal of which, for example, Psalm 110 or the Letter to the Philippians speaks: he who was cursed and died on the cross was suddenly resurrected to the fullness of life, was exalted, named above all names, and sat down after the right hand of God.

I dare say that most of us don’t like this story very much, in popular terms. Who would like to be weak, to be unsuccessful, to be despised, ridiculed and finally to succumb to death. Who among us does not desire success, who does not want to be strong, beautiful, record progress, victory, who does not want to be popular with people and also who does not want to participate in the ultimate dream of mankind? , be immortal?

A closer look at these two sets of values ​​and attitudes reveals that it is not something static, but that the dynamics are crucial: on closer inspection, we see that the goal ultimate is life, joy with God, the fullness of a meaningful life – no suffering, no giving up pain. However, and this is the dynamic, the ultimate goal cannot be reached without giving up on oneself, on one’s ego. It is not giving up for giving up, suffering for suffering, but for a greater purpose, for true meaning and life. In his parables throughout the Gospels, Jesus often emphasizes the inevitability of this dynamic: no grain can bear fruit unless it dies, no disciple can be great unless he abandons his ideas of grandeur.

It is very interesting to note that the so-called crisis of middle age, that is, a crisis that occurs between the ages of 35 and 50, has very similar characteristics. Suddenly we no longer know where we are in life, we feel depressed, beaten and defeated, we refuse to grow old, we experience a crisis in relationships, in our own profession. We feel like we are missing life, we don’t know what to do next. It is a time of existential questions: what is the meaning of my work, of my life? What values ​​do I believe in? What have I really accomplished in my life and where am I? Why do I work like a horse? Who is that woman behind?

This crisis, like other major crises in our lives, poses a turning point in our lives. For something new to be born, something old must first die. Before this new life is born, we have to go through a period of sorrow and pain. We must put aside all the masks – success, perfection, performance, strength, invincibility – that have accompanied us so far. We must learn to accept our own weaknesses, limits, imperfections, vulnerabilities, we must also learn to ask others for help. So this crisis poses a fundamental question of life, and some are doing everything not to have to listen to their heart, to protect themselves from failure and failure. Above all, to fill all the time, there should never be a moment of silence, a moment of peace, because the fundamental questions would arise again. However, without confrontation with oneself, without putting an end to the denial of the inevitable, maturation is not possible, growth is not possible. A person of this period is going through not only a crisis, but also a spiritual night, a period of spiritual aridity.

We see a similar dynamic in the story of the disciples going to Emmaus, a village not too far from Jerusalem. We, who already know how it all happened, are losing the drama that unfolds there. The two walking were ordinary people like us before we met Jesus – with their interests, their families, their jobs. Then they suddenly met someone who promises them a fundamental change in life. They follow it and for the first few months get carried away with the euphoric feeling that they have made the most wonderful and biggest change in their life, that their life finally has meaning. Little by little, the crowds join in, their master has an absolutely magical effect on people, many are completely ecstatic when they say, they change their behavior in a really drastic way, and little by little it seems that the time is really coming for the whole nation. . Of course, over time there will be disputes with certain members of the official religion, but the fascination with Jesus only grows when he is able to defeat even the most learned heads of his time in debate. People left their jobs, their property, changed their lives to follow this wandering preacher. And suddenly it’s over: Jesus is captured, condemned and killed in a way reserved for slaves. As Deuteronomy says, cursed man hanging on the wood. And that is exactly what is reflected in this frustration, in the total disappointment and resignation of the two who are on their way to Jerusalem. How could we jump on Jesus glue like that? These people lost their faith, they saw Christ die on the cross, and for them it was all over.

The Emmaus pilgrims only looked at them when they began to look at their lives with new eyes. A resurrection without death is not possible. The story of Jesus shows us that the way forward is possible. His message to us is not that life ends in death, but that death can lead to life, that for real life one must accept death: and now we are not talking about physical death, but of the death of our old self, the death of all the masks, the disguises, the roles that we play. What Jesus is showing is that crisis really is a great chance to start a new life, a truer, fuller, more meaningful life, if we accept the basic dynamics of life. The crisis is therefore really a chance: a chance to get rid of old ideas about God, of children’s beliefs, of moralizing prayers. So instead of running away from the intrusive questions of our inner selves, instead of killing the restlessness of our hearts by constantly running away to more work, new projects, new relationships, let’s try sometimes to stop, to stay upright, to endure a painful moment of confrontation with me, and try to answer the fundamental question of our heart “What do I really want?” What I really want in my life” without all the masks, the roles that the culture, the environment and ourselves put on us. “Who am I when I put aside my family, my career, my position? Only those who overcome these difficult obstacles, walk through the dark night, and stop putting their emotions first can achieve adult faith and the mature self in general. This path is neither easy nor quick, this path hurts and requires a confrontation with one’s own past. Our false self is just an illusion, a strong illusion. If we go deep in our hearts, God will first ask us to get rid of this illusion. The longer we cling to success, the bigger the walls the false self has built around us. But let’s not forget that Good Friday is only one day apart from Sunday morning and day comes after night. Let’s have the courage to change, because it’s dawn.

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