“Only in the context of grace can we face our sin; only in the place of healing do we share our wounds; only with a single-minded attention to Christ can we give up our clinging fears and face our own true nature. As we come to realize that it is not we who live, but Christ who lives in us, that he is our true self, we can slowly let compulsions melt away and begin to experience the freedom of the children of God.”
~Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart
I saw this painting, Mathias Grünewald’s Isenheim Altar, a long time ago. I did not realize what it was until reading Nouwen’s Way of the Heart and googling it to see what he was talking about. It illustrates the above passage. It seems we often try to fight our “demons” in a context where there is no grace and forgiveness. I often will ask for forgiveness knowing that I do not deserve it but also feeling like I cannot really have it. I am not sure why I do this, perhaps because I often fail repeatedly and do not want to feel that the grace being offered is cheap. I think it probably cheapens the grace even more when I do not ask for forgiveness in a context of grace with only Christ in mind. If I could think about Christ and becoming like him when I am in need of forgiveness, then perhaps I would not feel that the grace being offered is unattainable. In Grünewald’s painting, St. Anthony is in need of help and Christ is right there to provide it.