Potent Powerlessness

As I have been doing immense amounts of reading this month, I always have innumerable ideas floating through my puny mind. It’s quite a clutter, which I attempt to allow God to sort out and bring good order to in my sleep and my prayer. He did that especially one particular evening.

One of these insights that I happened on this past week was related to the hermeneutical-density of the Cross, i.e. the Cross has jam-packed into it an excess of meaning that is literally inexhaustible. One can never cease to draw new insights from reflecting and gazing on that old rugged Cross, which is itself the axis of history and the limitless fountain of the new life of grace.

But it was one line in particular (by Fr. Tom Hopko) that knocked me on the floor. It went something like this –throughout the Old Testament, the light of God’s engagement with fallen humanity passed through the murky lens of our sin and evil and violence and injustice, and through this lens God “appeared” as terrifying and violent and dangerous. But on the Cross, the omnipotent and infinite God, Maker of the unimaginable vastness of our 300 sextillion galaxies, manifested himself through a supremely transparent lens: the Word-made-corpse. In this translucent icon, God is revealed as powerless, naked, helpless so as to communicate to humanity a most extraordinary message: I don’t want to hurt you. As my unlimited power is mercy, and mercy places all power at the service of reconciling with the adulterous beloved, I you seek my mercy you will find only boundless tenderness. 

This, Hopko said, is one reason why in the Resurrection Jesus retained His Wounds: as an imperishable sign of God’s wise folly and weak power.

A View from the Ground

On the floor, as I lay there, what this consideration elicited from me — for a flash — was a depth of trust I’ve never before tasted, and a realization that it is precisely at the moment we find ourselves co-crucified with Him — powerless, naked, helpless — that we are able to receive this truth most perfectly.

Into those hands I am most willing to commend my spirit…

3 comments on “Potent Powerlessness

  1. Whew! What beauty! What book (or author) was that from?

    • So I totally knew you would find resonance in that reflection after wonderful co-musings on the exegetical challenges of facing violence in Scripture! I was reading Thomas Hopko’s Christian Faith And Same Sex Attraction: Eastern Orthodox Reflections, while simultaneously listening to his podcasts on the same themes. The quote emerged from a conversation he had with a homosexual man he was working with in spiritual direction. Hopko is fascinating and engaging, even if a bit harsh on Latin theology.

  2. JBC says:

    After a nice glass of Chianti it’s even better!

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