by James Paulin 11,2013
St. Paul of the cross is often pictured cradling the crucifix almost as one would show an infant. In more than one depiction he is seen as rising up to Jesus on the cross with Jesus reaching down to welcome him up to share in His passion. At first glance, this idea of passing along suffering seems macabre, irrational and repulsive. Would Jesus really want any person to endure any part of His sufferings?
Empathy is one of the most desirable and respected human emotions. Responding to others in their time of need makes us not just an animal high up on the food chain, rather a form of life that acts with kindness and understanding. Taking this attitude to a higher level has been the motivation behind many selfless lives given without regard for personal gain or recognition. Sometimes the heart must be served first and foremost.
Compassion is connection. When someone we love is sick or hurting emotionally, our heart goes out to them. This “pulling at the heartstrings” can be powerful or faint depending upon how it is nurtured. When St. Paul of the Cross went on his forty day retreat, he immersed his whole being into the gift of Gods’ love through the passion, so much so that sharing in it would be pure ecstasy beyond any other pleasure possible. Jesus surrendered to the Father’s will in the most important act of sacrifice ever. Embracing the sufferings of Jesus Christ is to accept all that He offers just as we would welcome a newborn child.