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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Barron » Robert Barron - The Power of the Cross

Robert Barron - The Power of the Cross

Robert Barron - The Power of the Cross

Well, I'm recording these words on holy Thursday, so we come to the beginning of the tritium the most sacred time of year for Christians and I must say my mind's been drifting a lot during this time to the issue of pain it might seem a little bit strange but it may be its condition in part by a recent conversation I had with Jordan Peterson the psychologist who said you know in many Philosophical and religious traditions pain is metaphysically basic and what he meant was it's like the unavoidable fact of life, even the most skeptical Philosopher think of a descartes, you know, you can't really deny pain that pain exists, then we spend a lot of our lives trying to deal with it and overcome it, but you can't deny it.

It's so fundamental anyway, I've been thinking about that because let's face it the most sacred time of the year, especially the church puts before our eyes an image of someone at the extreme limit of pain I'm talking about now the crucified Jesus were meant to contemplate this person at the limit of suffering now let's just think about suffering and it's different dimensions there's physical suffering and we all experience it even I mean little kids with cuts and bruises and broken bones and everything but you make your way through a human life. I mean everyone experiences physical suffering.

I remember the first time I spent substantial period in a hospital and what that was like that awful experience anyone's been through surgery anyone that's listening to me right now that's in chronic pain and a lot of people that just their bodies are always in sort of constant rebellion against them physical suffering just accompanies us throughout life but that's only one dimension of it, isn't it?

In many ways more acute and more more difficult and dangerous is psychological suffering and again it begins with little kids the beginning of life we experience you know rejection and an isolation humiliation even think of it like a little person who I am still in vivid memories of being lost as a kid probably just for a few moments but it feels like an eternity when you're a child and where are my parents? Kids that that weren't chosen for games they have that that sense of being rejected you know now you move through your life and it becomes of course more intense more acute.

I think for me the greatest psychological suffering I've been through is loneliness those times when in my life when I'm started in a new city or a new school maybe most powerfully when I went to Paris for my doctoral studies and you know here I was in the new language new city didn't know anybody when you start your day and you think there's no real prospect of a meaningful human connection for me today. There's something just kind of hellish about that, you know anyone that's been through the experience of losing a loved one knows this very particular texture of psychological suffering when you know at least in this life.

I'm never gonna see that person again who meant so much to me or think of the experience of being betrayed you know by someone that you thought was a good friend and a supporter and suddenly they turned on you in a way that just surprised you and left you flummoxed. These are all different types of psychological suffering but having looked at that we still haven't looked all the way down to the bottom of the well of suffering because there's finally what I'd call existential suffering this is a loss of meaning a loss of purpose.

So some people they might be physically fine. It might even be psychologically balanced but they're experiencing this loss of meaning a sense of a wider purpose think here of you know, jean-Paul sartre and the founder of existentialism Lafayette observed, you know life is absurd that's someone that's that's experiencing existential suffering and anxiety or a, you know, Friedrich Nietzsche whom I often quote his is God is dead again. I agree there with Jordan Peterson. That's not an exultant cry that's a kind of despairing cry, "God is dead". I mean, there's there's no transcendent reference to my life. No ultimate meaning now one more step.

So these different dimensions of pain this this sort of metaphysically unavoidable fact but here's the next step. I want to take there's a tight connection between pain and sin, and the slightest reflection of it reveals. It just think it real practically how do you behave toward other people when you're in a lot of pain? Generally not so good much of life is trying to avoid pain trying to get around it to prevent it or when we're in pain to respond to the one who put me in pain by getting back at him it's often inflicting pain on others is a function of the pain that I'm in right and we all know that whether it's physical pain psychological pain existential pain it tends to give rise to the worst of our behavior pain and sin are linked okay now perhaps you're wondering why is this bishop and holy week talking so much to me about suffering and pain and all this well, go back to the cross of Jesus, right?

The church placing before our eyes at this holiest time of the year this man in literally excruciating pain right so x crew che from the cross Jesus on the cross is that the limit of physical suffering so think of all the physical suffering of your life? Well, here's someone who is pinned to this instrument of torture. That is slowly asphyxiating him and exsanguinating him while he's in excruciating torturous pain covered in cuts and bruises lacerations. I mean the limit of physical suffering is there but press it there's also on that cross terrible psychological suffering Jesus who is betrayed by his friend abandoned by his friends denied denied by st. Peter that the chief of his apostles who's being a spat upon by pastors by being mocked and humiliated? The leaders of a society both religious and political humiliating him publicly.

I mean, it's the limit of psychological pain but then press it that that utterly mysterious cry of Jesus on the cross, right God my God why have you abandoned me I say what you want about that and it's it's been examined from a hundred different angles, but something like existential pain is being manifested there is some sense of of a loss of connection to God the point is that cross is someone who's at the limit of all these different forms of pain right now now if that's all he were just a man in intense pain we'd say well there's a great martyr or there's a great poor poor soul, you know what's the hinge upon which this whole thing turns and the reason why the church puts that rather horrific vision before our eyes is that it's not just a man on that cross. It's a man who's also God it's God who experiences the limit of physical suffering? It's God who experiences the limit of psychological suffering?

Even God who experiences the limit of existential suffering and see there's the whole point God has entered into our pain and has thereby wrapped it up in the ever-greater divine mercy God's love and this is what's revealed of course on Easter Sunday. What's revealed in the resurrection is that God's love God's mercy is greater than the totality of human pain now take a last step remember the link between pain and sin whereas income from it comes from our own pain if God's mercy has wrapped up and conquered pain in a very real sense he's wrapped up and conquered sin, that's why we say he became sin on the cross. Why sin was dealt with on the cross? Okay if I could sum this up, I would say I mean, I'm building on Jordan Peterson who said pain is metaphysically basic but I'd say no no finally the divine mercy is metaphysically basic the divine mercy that accompanied our pain all the way down and enveloped it and in that we find our redemption.
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