Transformed into Christ
Saint John of the Cross wrote that our transformation, our conversion and configuring to God could be likened to a piece of timber consumed by flames. Life, he wrote, is a long and often painful process by which our Lord purifies and sanctifies each one of us with the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Just as a log thrust into a fireplace spends a great deal of time first being heated and dried out, so too does the fire of God's love warm my soul and begin to dry it. As my damaged nature and my sins are dried up and purged by the steady presence of this divine flame, I begin to slowly transform into something altogether new. This never comes without pain, for no such transformation ever can. We usually fear such change. We fear moving away from a place in which we feel comfortable, terrible as it may be, into a process that will surely be characterized by suffering. But ironic as it may seem at first glance, suffering is not to be feared. It must be embraced and offered to God.
When I make such an offering, I begin to experience something extraordinary. My cross begins to resemble his cross. In truth, it actually becomes his cross. My bruises, my cuts, my gashes, my sorrow - they all converge with his own and he takes them upon himself. As this drama unfolds, he returns everything to me. His blood becomes my own. His hands and feet become my own. Better said, I become a true member of his own Mystical Body! And so, as Saint Paul puts it in my favorite passage of Scripture:
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:20