In this post from the Center for Action and Contemplation, Cynthia Bourgeault, states the heart of Jesus’ ministry is summed up in the way He radically surrenders Himself for the sake of love: [Jesus’] idea of “dying to self” was not through inner renunciation and guarding the purity of His being, but through radically squandering everything He had and was. In life He horrified the prim and proper by dining with tax collectors and prostitutes, by telling parables about extravagant generosity, by giving His approval to acts of costly and apparently pointless sacrifice such as the woman who broke open the alabaster jar to anoint Him with precious oil; by teaching always and everywhere, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth.” John the Baptist’s disciples disapproved of Him for drinking and banqueting; the Pharisees disapproved of Him for healing on the Sabbath. But He went His way, giving Himself fully into life and death, losing Himself, squandering himself, “gambling away every gift God bestows.” It is . . . love utterly poured out, “consum’d with that which it was noursh’d by,” in the words of Shakespeare’s sonnet—that opens the gate to the Kingdom of Heaven. This is what Jesus taught and this is what He walked.
And He left us a method for practicing this path ourselves, the method He himself modeled to perfection in the Garden of Gethsemane. When surrounded by fear, contradiction, betrayal; when the “fight or flight” alarm bells are going off in your head and everything inside you wants to brace and defend itself, the infallible way to extricate yourself and reclaim your home in that sheltering kingdom is simply to freely release whatever you are holding onto—including, if it comes to this, life itself. The method of full, voluntary self-donation reconnects you instantly to the wellspring; in fact, it is the wellspring. The most daring gamble of Jesus’ trajectory of pure love may just be to show us that self-emptying is not the means to something else; the act is itself the full expression of its meaning and instantly brings into being “a new creation”: the integral wholeness of Love manifested in the particularity of a human heart.
And Howard Thurman (1900–1981) likewise understood the heart of Christian spirituality as surrender to God, which paradoxically opens our lives up to a greater freedom that we could not otherwise have imagined: I surrender myself to God without any conditions or reservations. I shall not bargain with [God]. I shall not make my surrender piecemeal, but I shall lay bare the very center of me, that all of my very being shall be charged with the creative energy of God. Little by little, or vast area by vast area, my life must be transmuted in the life of God. As this happens, I come into the meaning of true freedom and the burdens that I seemed unable to bear are floated in the current of the life and love of God.
You must make a sound and firm resolution to submit yourselves totally to His will and, with a lively and steadfast faith, to receive from Him what you have to do for love of Him. And in this (whatever may happen) to persevere with constancy to the very end.St. Angela Merici
Thank You, Lord, for allowing me to be in communion with You through my acts of self-surrender. I’m grateful for Your continued serving me, washing me, sanctifying me and loving me through the priesthood and Eucharist.