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Touch the Wounds: A Series of Lenten Meditations, Week 5

Today’s meditation for the fifth week of Lent comes from Tomáš Halík’s Touch the Wounds. This excerpt considers the certainty of faith, and the existence of a God alongside a suffering world.

There are apparently many who have lost their faith in God solely because of the existence of evil and suffering in the world. I must admit that I have never been subject to that temptation. My understanding and experience of it have tended to be quite opposite: almost nothing has aroused in me such a thirst for meaning as the absurdities of the world, and such a thirst for God as the open wounds of life’s sorrows.

After all, isn’t that intense thirst the earthly form of faith, whereas the radiant certainties and the beatific vision (visio beatifica) are reserved for sacred rest in heaven? Faith here on earth is not “certainty” but openness to the Incomprehensible as we ask and seek, occasionally shouting, crying, and protesting, but also as we constantly pray for trust and perseverance, as we have the courage to reject superficial and facile answers and explanations … If the world were perfect it would already be god, and no question of God would remain in it any longer. A god who gazed narcissistically at the unblemished mirror of his perfect, totally harmonized world in which there were no conflicts, contradictions, or mysteries would not be my God, the God of the Bible, the God of my faith . . . The world about which scripture speaks (like our present day world) is one of bleeding and painful wounds—and the God that it invokes bears those wounds also. In the gospel story on which the meditations of this book are based, God appears as a wounded God, not like the apathetic god of the Stoics or god as a projection of our desires, let alone as a symbol of the power ambitions of a man or nation. He is a sympathetic God, one who feels with us, who suffers with us.

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