Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 12, 2004
Let our lover's blood transform sin
By FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi
"There is only one way to put an end to evil, and that is to do good for evil."
- Leo Tolstoy
Perhaps an image might be helpful: Jesus took away our sins in the same way as a filter purifies water. A filter takes in impure water, holds the impurities inside of itself, and gives back only the pure water. It transforms rather than transmits.
We see this in Jesus: Like the ultimate cleansing filter he purifies life itself: He takes in hatred, holds it, transforms it, and gives back love; he takes in bitterness, holds it, transforms it, and gives back graciousness; he takes in curses, holds them, transforms them, and gives back blessing; he takes in chaos, holds it, transforms it, and gives back order; he takes in fear, holds it, transforms it, and gives back freedom; he takes in jealousy, holds it, transforms it, and gives back affirmation; and he takes in Satan and murder, holds them, transforms them, and gives back only God and forgiveness.
This isn't easy. To do this, without resentment, means sweating blood, a lover's blood. Jesus walked into the Garden of Gethsemane as the archetypal lover, but also as one tempted, just as we are, towards bitterness, fear, resentment and self-protection. He was haunted by all the same proclivities that beset us.
But, in Gethsemane, he transformed rather than transmitted those temptations. He didn't simply give back in kind, letting the energy simply flow through him. He purified the energy and took the tension and sin out of it by absorbing them. It cost him his blood, his life and his reputation.
He had to sweat blood, but he emerged from the garden the truly generative lover who, at the price of giving away everything, gives back peace for tension and forgiveness for sin, absorbing in his own person the tension and sin so as to take them out of the community. The giving over of that kind of blood really does wash away sin.
And, in doing this, Jesus doesn't want admirers, but followers. The Garden of Gethsemane invites us, everyone of us, to step in, and to step up. It invites us to sweat a lover's blood so as to help absorb, purify, and transform tension and sin rather than simply transmit them.
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