The triumph of powerlessness

"Guess where I've just been?" The student is glowing, beaming, and with good reason: she's just come back from a special breakfast at St Hugh's College, where she met Aung San Suu Kyi. A few hours later I meet another student, with her visiting mother, fresh from standing in an excited crowd, alongside some even more excited Burmese, to watch her arrive for her honorary degree.

Talking with them about their brief encounters with this extraordinary woman is far more moving than simply seeing her on TV - although that is moving enough. And seeing these young women's beaming smiles, feeling their palpable excitement, it was clear that their delight had nothing to do with celebrity, and everything to do with drawing inspiration from Suu Kyi's spirit in the face of hardships and persecution. They hadn't just met a famous person or even a well-respected one, but a woman who has quietly endured long years of isolation and legalised setbacks, and radiates an aura of calm, warmth and inner strength, someone from whom all sorts of inspiration can be drawn.

And I find myself recalling my last blogpost about the piercing of the Heart, and seeing a contemporary parallel. Last Friday I wrote This is indeed an event when malevolence meets goodness, sin meets love. And on face value, sin definitely wins. Love is powerless, sin is powerful... Love is a spent force, sin is triumphant. And yet... through that act of gratuitous cruelty... we have hatred somehow lost in the mighty flow of love it has unwittingly unleashed. Love, seemingly powerless, has, in its very powerlessness, conquered sin. That is something to hold on to, when all seems bleak and hatred seems to be reigning...

And today, in a young woman's shining eyes, as well as on our TV screen, I see a seemingly powerless woman who, in her very powerlessness, has conquered military might; a woman who appeared a spent force when the regime was triumphant but whose very stillness and silence have moved the world. In their efforts to control and silence her, the regime unwittingly unleashed a spirit they could never control. This is indeed something to hold on to, when all seems bleak and hatred seems to be reigning...


  1. Aung San Suu Kyi, interviewed said that her suffering was nothing compared to the people of Burma. She appears permanently astonished when given awards, and so gracious at all times.

  2. Thank you Silvana for "reading, interpreting and expressing" so well the connection between Aung San Suk Kyi's experience and the piercing of the Heart of Jesus.

    The triumphant love of Jesus unleashed in the piercing of his heart on the cross is alive and well today in the lives of those who are faithful to that call to love, even in the depth of suffering.

    Another of last week's experiences reveals that love alive and active as personal and social transformation, by the concert relayed on TV of the Venezuelan orchestra with the children of Rapploch in Scotland. Like their older guests the background of the Rapploch children is a challenging one of poverty and deprivation, but they are now benefitting from learning to play intruments, and to do it together in an orchestra just as their Venezuelan guests did earlier. May the "System" spread and bring the same transformation to many more young people!


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