Thursday: Psalm 144-145, Proverbs 8, 2 Kings 23 & 2 Peter 1

From Lucia Pizzo Flaherty

May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown,
Our daughters like corner pillars, cut for the building of a palace.
May our barns be filled with produce of every kind;
May our sheep increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields,
And may our cattle be heavy with young.
May there be no breach in the walls, no exile,
And no cry of distress in our streets.
Psalms 144:12-14

I recently saw the movie Spotlight, which chronicles the Boston Globe’s exposé of the abuse and cover-up within the Catholic Church in Boston in the early 2000s.  The movie was heartbreaking.  I’ve always been affected by horrible things done to children, but I feel this even more strongly now that I am a mother.  Having a daughter has brought me so much joy.  Each day is filled with wonder and new smiles and laughter.  But having a daughter is also a liability.  It has brought me so much fear of awful things happening to her.  Maybe this is a glimpse into what it feels like for God as father. 

This is a dangerous world.  Thinking mathematically, I can justify having a child.  Joan brightens the world—she improves the ratio of joy to suffering in a global sense.  However, she also puts me directly at risk of this joy being so personally taken away.

All that to say: it must have been utterly heart wrenching for God to send his son to this world.  For me, the pain of something awful happening to my child is theoretical; for God, it was definite.  To know that your child is far from you, that your child is in real danger, that your child is taking on all the pain and suffering of the world—and not just suffering as a word, as a concept, but suffering as a litany of all of the real physical acts of horror that one person can commit against another—to know that this is happening and will happen to your child.  How could anything be worth it?  How could we be worth it?  How could I be worth it?

Of course, there’s a paradox too: God is both parent and child.  And this is a choice I can better understand, because it’s a choice—sacrificing oneself—rather than powerlessly seeing a child suffer and being unable to offer protection.  I would sacrifice myself to keep Joan from suffering.  And so God sacrifices himself in the most extreme way to keep us, his children, from extreme suffering.

May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown,
Our daughters like corner pillars, cut for the building of a palace.

May there be no breach in the walls, no exile,

And no cry of distress in our streets.