The Ugly Beautiful

It’s Holy Thursday today, as you likely know, and this year I am confronted with humanity: humanity in all of its ugly beauty. That’s right. Humanity is beautiful. And humanity is ugly. Sort of like the Cross.

Today we commemorate Christ, eating the Last Supper with his dear ones, washing their feet, dipping his hand into a dish to touch a beloved traitor. Jesus must have looked at Judas and remembered the woven tapestry of his life—his birth, his childhood, him sitting on his mama’s knee and all the delight that went into making him who he had become. Jesus must have also watched with sadness as the evil grew and took him over completely.

The Ugly Beautiful.

We are about to relive Christ’s horrific passion and death. In a few short hours we will walk with him through slaps from Pharisees, spilled blood and deep wounds, taunts from Herod, and then dragging ourselves through the streets with the Cyrenean we will end up on Golgotha. Yet in his wake, Jesus leaves nothing but life and light, hope and healing and love, from miraculously healing the ear of the high priests’ servant, to comforting the Daughters of Jerusalem, to promising eternal life to a hardened criminal.

The Ugly Beautiful.

And then we will sing. We will light a fire in darkness and sing of the happy fault, the necessary sin of Adam that brought to us Eternal Salvation. Even though we despised and reject him, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not, yet he still came to save us, for God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ dies for us.

The Ugly Beautiful.

And I am reminded once again that the human heart is right full of evil, and that at any moment you or I could step into the Passion narrative as any of those shady characters, succumb to that lurking evil and commit the most heinous of crimes.

Yet at the same time I am confronted by the intrinsic and delicate beauty of each and every soul, and of the truth, honour, purity, and excellence that naturally pours forth from a heart touched by Grace and Love Incarnate. I’m confronted by the fact that nothing in this world is as black and white as we would wish it to be, especially not the human heart. I’m reminded that we are always loved, by a deeply compassionate God—the same God that hung on the cross for us and wipes away sins in the whispered words of absolution. We’re not loved just when we think we’re being “good.” We’re always loved, from before we were born to eternity, no matter what we do. And that, my friends, is truly beautiful.