Tuesday, January 31, 2012
A Single Thorn
"Incline your ear, O Lord." Psalm 86:1
I've been contemplating Rogier van der Weyden's Descent From the Cross. Upon close inspection I was struck by the single thorn that pierces Christ's ear. I think of St. Paul's lament about the thorn in his side and the fact that God does not take it away from him despite his triple petition.
Could this one single thorn within the ear of Christ represent a single sin, an evil passion that afflicts our individual souls, the one sin that bothers us the most, the one of which we long to be rid of once and for all, and yet, there it remains aggravating and irritating us again and again? We know it all too well and lament over our inability to remove it from our hearts on our frequent trips to confession. We whisper it to the priest thinking this must be the last time that particular sin will prick our souls and yet, it comes back to tempt us over and over, just when we think we're finally rid of it.
We beg God to remove it; this one, persistant thorn of sinfulness among many great sins, the one that is perhaps the most bothersome source of both our suffering and that of the Lord. And yet the thorn remains, continuously penetrating his ear just as it jabs our conscience. So knowing that on our own we can do nothing, we persistantly offer prayers of supplication begging Him to help us remove it and begin the healing of the wound.
O Lord, incline your ear and take our sin-our selfishness, our pride, our vanity, our lust, our greed-take it all! Listen to how we are distressed by our offenses because they are a source of suffering to you and relieve us of the sharp pain that is caused by our sin. Free us from the stabbing burdens of sin that plague us so that we may peacefully live in Your love. Amen.