“Yes,” said I, “strictly speaking, the question is not how to get cured, but how to live.”
Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim , Kindle Edition, p. 159.
We are desperate for a cure, and there is no cure for the human condition. It just is as it is. It is rather difficult; quite messy at times. If we are not looking for a cure, then we have a tendency to live with “the determination to lounge safely through existence…” (Lord Jim, p. 9). But ultimately the latter becomes the riskiest path. For Conrad the way to live is “to the destructive element submit yourself, and with the exertions of your hands and feet in the water make the deep, deep sea keep you up.” (p.160) The deep is ultimately ourselves and we run away from it. Conrad again: “… it is my belief no man ever understands quite his own artful dodges to escape from the grim shadow of self-knowledge.” (p.59) Take on life as it is; “immerse” yourself in it with commitment to the real.
Does this give impetus to our understanding and living of the Gospel message? Jesus does not offer an easy solution, a comfortable life or a hand-out cure. He invites us, rather, to take up the cross (with him, of course); to lose our lives; to surrender; to submit ourselves to the consequences of the human condition, my mysteriously unique human condition. This is the paradox at the heart of the Christian experience: there is no cure for the human condition as we know it now; but we can live, come alive, by willingly immersing ourselves in it, by dying. Our Resurrection faith allows us already in the very carrying of the cross to live in certain hope, and self-surrendering love, until the life and glory which is out of all proportion is revealed when the dying is complete.
Mgr. James MacNeill