When reflecting upon a short video I watched on the transformation of the caterpillar into a butterfly, I was struck by an interesting fact: the caterpillar digests itself and turns into ooze.
As a caterpillar hangs from a branch entering into its next life phase, its exterior hardens, transforming into the familiar cocoon. However, its interior does the opposite. For a period of days, the creature that was once a caterpillar turns into goo with its digestive enzymes breaking down its body. Miraculously, the pile of ooze encased inside the cocoon will transform into a beautiful butterfly.
In this process, I see a reflection of our transformation from lowly creatures crawling about in hardships and sin to flying creatures of beauty. I’m sure thousands of Christians have written about this parallel. But the thing that caught my interest was the pile of goo.
That pile of goo represents everything that the caterpillar had been through and assimilated into itself during its short life. When it becomes a butterfly, the goo is not removed with something else taking its place, but rather the goo is the very material used to transform the lowly caterpillar into a butterfly.
I see the same with us. All our lives we accumulate these sinful passions, terrible experiences, abusive situations, anger and hate: in a word, a big sticky pile of goo that seems to have no redemptive value.
Our Lord beckons us to enter death with Him, to come to the cross to die with Him so that we can be transformed in Him. The cross is our cocoon-tomb in which the miracle takes place. The nasty pile of goo that was all of our sinful and horrible experiences in life somehow, miraculously, is the “stuff” that God transforms and divinizes into holy beauty.
God doesn’t remove our goo, our past experiences; He waives no magic wand over us to make these things go away or make the past no longer hurt. These experiences go with us to the cross and die with us there. But then God takes this seemingly useless material of our life to create beauty.
Maybe we are prone to anger or addictive behavior, maybe we have a past that is too painful to remember, maybe we have some other part of us that seems too ugly to bear. All of this God invites to bring with us to the cross. These things that we have assimilated into ourselves and that have shaped our personality are the very material that He will divinize into a beautiful creature of light. The transformation is painful and mysterious, but, if we are faithful, we will become divine and radiant creatures shining as the stars in the night sky.
May God help us to embrace this cross, to no longer run, and to bring everything into Him to die with Him that we might rise with Him.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”
(1st Corinthians 15:51-55)