Sunday, 14 October 2007

III. Jesus falls for the first time

Those who study pain are struck by its inexpressibility and its incommunicaility. Those in great pain are reduced to inarticulate screams and moans, or words which convey little of the actual experience of pain ('throbbing, stabbing, burning'). Pain does not merely resist language, but actively destroys it, in extreme cases reducing the sufferer to the sounds he used before he could speak. ... From the time a person begins to make sounds and words, language is a means of self expansion, the way in which a person moves beyond the confines of her body. In language a person learns to name the world, to become a larger part of the world, to gain a larger self. For a person in pain, the process is reversed. The immediacy of pain, its monopoly of attention and its incommunicability, reduces the world of the sufferer down again to the limits of the body itself. In older people, bodily fragility often brings the world down to within a few feet of their physical bodies. Their world becomes a ceaseless preoccupation with sitting comfortably, the room temperature, their aches and pains...Pain is often called 'blinding' because it eliminates all but itself from the field of vision.

Torture and the Eucharist - William T Cavanaugh

When Jesus falls he succumbs to human pain. The temptation would be to retreat inside himself and find no language with which to start again, no reason to look beyond the boundaries of his physical self. In order to begin again Jesus raises his head to speak the Word to his mother.

I think that we want to look good all the time, even when things are tough and we are in pain. People are ashamed to admit it when things become too much, they want to be brave, be strong and cope. Invariably I tend to look away from weakness, people crying makes me squirm. But often it is through our own experiences of weakness we are enabled to recognise the pain of others and begin to speak words of compassion. And it is through realising that everyone travels together that people get the courage to keep going. Jesus looked out from himself when most people would look in, and it was from this that he gained his strength to move forward in compassion and in love, bringing with him the hearts of those who loved and cared for him.

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