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In my last post I wrote something about the Aleph and Tav, the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. That alphabet is in itself a representation of life and the world. It is a complex system of symbols meant to be deciphered gradually. I have reasons to believe it is a compact but infinite lesson from God Himself.
Life begins with force and fecundity: the ALEPH represents the beginning: God, and also an ox, and a plow that breaks the hard surface of the soil so the seed can find a place to grow. From the very start, the ever present shadow of death is there. This was disclosed by Jesus when he said:
John 12:24 — Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
From that mysterious start, life begins the struggle upwards so we can grow slowly towards Heaven, like a plant. Thus we progress towards the TAV, the cross, the last letter of the alphabet. The two sticks of the Hebrew equivalent of our letter tee, symbolize the intersection of Heaven and Earth, of human life and the Divine Being. We return to Him to deliver the fruit of our experience on earth. If we are fruitful, we bloom in Heaven.
Life in this earth is tragic, no matter how much you think others are enjoying while you suffer like a pig being slaughtered. If others have been given joy and contentment—that happy grace will end—and the more joy there was in that life, the more bitter will be the final fruit, the harder it will be for those who found apparent happiness in the material world to long for Heaven and the Divine Embrace.
Passing through the Cross inverts things: material joy can turn into loss and suffering into great spiritual gain. If we are to believe the saints, that is “the process” we have to go through. For those who understand the true meaning of life and suffering, those who realize that the mystery of pain is God Himself in pain on the Cross, showing us the way … for those blessed men and women there are great rewards here and beyond. Here, because that understanding allows you to enjoy Heavenly rewards beforehand—think of St Padre Pio, St Francis, and other saints.
How does that work? Christ’s wounds give us a clue. His feet, his hands, and his heart (his side) were wounded. Those are the five wounds of Our Lord. His side (selah in Hebrew) was wounded after he was already dead. Now the word for “side” in Hebrew is also the word for “half”. Additionally, the letter ALEPH also represents a tiny man with one arm pointing at the ground and the other pointing towards Heaven. Christ allows men to “hurt” his heavenly side. The Eucharist bleeds sometimes to teach us that. When God incorporated human nature into the life of the Holy Trinity, the knowledge of the Cross, the wisdom of the Cross is the “pearl of great price” that God unveiled for us. The treasure he took with Him to his heavenly home.
Our Blessed Mother, Mary of Nazareth understood that perfectly. Other times we have considered here how Mary disarmed the trap of the devil by desiring for herself the sufferings of Jesus. To be able to perfectly desire the Cross, she had to be Mother and also Perfect. That part of the redemption of mankind begins in the depths of human nature. It is in the nature of mothers to abhor the suffering of their children. What is nature but the Logos, the Word of God that extends throughout the entire universe “seen and unseen”, the very force that pervades everything that is? The devil fooled our mother Eve to illicitly desire the wisdom of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve ate the fruit of that tree seeking wisdom but instead she purchased suffering and death for her entire offspring.
Remember when Eve was born? She was born from Adam’s rib (selah) that is from his side or half. Adam was alive but in a profound sleep when his side was open and Eve was born of him. Eve is a half, or a side, the selah of Adam. Both halves tend naturally to be reunited.
Genesis 2: 20-22 — But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib [part, half] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
Eve had to give birth to a fallen race condemned to death. Birth pangs precede the arrival of every human being into this valley of tears. Our life begins with pain and ends with pain. To rescue us from that awful fate, God became man and took upon Himself our sufferings. Every time you hear about a bleeding Eucharistic Host, think of this: God, who cannot suffer, came to know our suffering and not only to know it but to own it.
The ALEPH is not only the beginning of the road towards the Cross, it resembles a cross, it reminds us of the Cross. When the Roman soldier “plowed” with his lance the side of Jesus’ body, he unwittingly formed the shape of the ALEPH. Water and blood surged from Jesus’ side. Water, without which life is impossible, and blood the very fluid of life.
Leviticus 17:11 — For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.
Through the open wound on the human nature of the God-Man we were invited to share the life of the Holy Trinity. What a good deal it was for us! He took our infirmities in exchange for everlasting, indestructible life.
Enter through the narrow gate of pain to the land of eternal joy, through the wound on His side that leads straight to His Sacred Heart.
Matthew 7:13-14 — “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you, everything passes, but God stays. Patience reaches it all; he who has God nothing lacks: God alone suffices.
Que rien ne te trouble, que rien ne t’effraie, qui à Dieu ne manque de rien, que rien ne te trouble, que rien ne t’effraie, seul Dieu suffit.
Nada te turbe, nada te espante todo se pasa, Dios no se muda, la paciencia todo lo alcanza, quien a Dios tiene nada le falta sólo Dios basta.
Thank you for your reflections, Carlos! Lots to pray & ponder.
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