Who could have imagined that from the depths of the dark despair, the sick, brutal reality of evil, the confronting self-discovery of Peter’s weakness in the face of trial? Who could have imagined from this desolation of hope, destruction of dreams, and the bitter emptiness of failure and of loss? That from just these ashes the Phoenix of new life would arise? With a smile on its face, a mystery in its countenance, a message of peace, of comfort, and a charge to mission?
Love wins. Who would have thought? But love always wins. By its nature, it cannot fail.
The story of the passion reveals an archetype in human experience and divine presence: when evil has done its worst – God is love. And love wins.
You can throw all the vitriol, hatred, violence, cruelty, humiliation of the Sanhedrin, Rome, Nazi Germany, Russian autocrats at humanity and at God, and guess what? God is love. And the love of God will not be twisted by hate into hate but will absorb every blow and come back with an indefatigable message of grace, compassion, faith, courage, and hope. Love wins, God wins, always.
Because of the Incarnation, the Passion, and the Resurrection of the Christ … love is in the world and will not be put out. Waves and onslaughts of evil will continue to break themselves against the shores of such love but have yet to extinguish the flames of compassion and hope in even the darkest corners of human existence.
For every act of violence, cruelty and slander, there is a larger movement in the hearts and behaviours of humanity. Every day, all over the world, across cultures and regions, a legion of people is acting in decent and restorative and gracious ways. Somebody, somewhere is planting a tree, offering a drink of water to a thirsty stranger, digging a well for a community, researching a cure for disease, engineering a better sewerage system, giving way in the traffic, making space for a traumatised refugee, being decent and positive in the workplace, patiently waking to the needs of a small child in the middle of the night, finding ways to advocate for those oppressed by unjust systems, writing a poem, painting a picture, staging a play, offering to pray … Love wins.
The legendary Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, kept on his office door an inscription of a saying from Erasmus, a late medieval philosopher: “Called or not God is always present”. And God is love, and love is in the world, and love wins. Always.
Paul encouraged his early Christian community with this saying: “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (12:21). The reality is that evil cannot overcome good but that we may be tempted to become overwhelmed in our minds by evil because we pay it too much attention and have forgotten to notice the multitude of evidence for the continuing, quiet, non-egocentric, advancement of love.
A beautiful resurrection story from John’s gospel shows Jesus ghosting into a room to make a sudden surprise appearance to his disciples – the story notes that “all the doors were locked for fear … “ (John 20:19). What an image of love’s permeation in our world - locked doors, physical and psychological, are as nothing to it. And what is the message of Jesus to his bewildered team? “Peace be with you!” Following this profound and full-bodied action, Jesus essentially tells his disciples to open the doors, cease cowering in fear, and get out and do it. Do what? Embody the message of the resurrection in both word and deed: Love wins!
This easter season renews our call as followers of Jesus to open our doors, to move out into the world where God is already and always present, to awaken awareness of an active compassion beyond all comprehension.
Resurrection is our inevitable future.
Our current experience of desolation and despair are the very ashes from which the Phoenix of the risen Christ will ghost through our walls, surprising us in new ways with a message of the deepest assurance and peace.
Phil Daughtry is a senior manager at Tabor and he teaches in the field of contemporary spirituality. He has a reputation amongst his staff as a caring and empowering leader. His students speak of his gentleness, clarity of communication and capacity to teach critical and reflective thinking skills. Phil is active in research and participates in international conversations about the place of spirituality in life, work and society. He is a member of the International Network for the Study of Spirituality (INSS) and the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality (SSCS). His own spiritual journey is one that is shaped by contemplative practices from the Christian tradition and a progressive theological worldview. When not at work, Phil is happiest in the garden, on his BMW motorcycle tourer, fishing, camping, spending time with his wife, adult children, partners and grandchildren, and supporting the Adelaide United Football (soccer) Club.