(This reflection was written seven years ago.)
Three weeks ago tonight I arrived home from my pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The experience has settled in my mind; I have been able to process its effects. The most important one: Redemption.
We hear this word so many times. It is so central, so often repeated a belief in our Christian faith that it can lose its impact. I think I never really understood it – in my bones, in the core of my being.
To be present at the Calvary site, to bend down to kiss that spot, to feel myself able to say only two words: Unworthy woman. To be allowed to come close not just geographically, but spiritually close to the reality of Christ’s redemptive love. I now feel I know what it means to be redeemed. I understand fully that my and everyone’s sin has been totally removed: Christ has atoned. We are no longer separated from God, “cast out” of his presence. Christ has truly set us free.
This truth, this conviction is stunning to realize. How we, with all our misdeeds both great and petty, can be lifted up, can be lifted out of the mud that so often seems our natural element – what a great mystery this is!
I am floating so effortlessly in this pure air where it seems that nothing ever again can pull me down. (Would that it were so! I understand St. Peter on Mount Tabor: “Lord, it is good for us to be here!”) But even when this euphoria evaporates, I think I must remember the solid ground of this truth: Christ loves me, loves us, has done everything to ensure that we will be with him always.
Redemption. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:39) How simple it all is.