This Lent, Give up Stoic Suffering

Jesus, if you knew who I was, you wouldn’t let me touch your feet. Yet it is because you know who I am that you let me touch your feet. (ref. Luke 7:36-47)

Mary Magdalene had a past.

Although Jesus absolved her sins and healed her, she still had memories and shame to deal with. She lived in adoration of Him. She had to learn of her beauty; know of her intrinsic value; know she was worthy. She learned Truth. In her culture, others would continue to scorn her for being a prostitute who should have been stoned. Yet, no one could take away her God-given dignity. She learned too that her own brokenness wasn’t her identity. She no longer had to feel unworthy and unable to please God because her very existence was pleasing to God. We can see the close intimacy in her soul that she developed with Jesus for, of all the people He could have first appeared to after His resurrection, He chose her (John 20:11-18).

And He chooses you too.

Beginning in childhood, we accumulate ‘baggage’ carried with us throughout life. We expect and trust parents to love us and fulfill our every need. Family members and friends should ‘be there’ for us. Employers should care for our well-being. The ‘should haves” are endless and our expectations are always unmet. People can only love others to the extent of their own brokenness. Life can seem like a path full of potholes; a series of disappointments. That’s why we have God, to fill in the gaps and provide what others cannot.

Our Lord was thwarted at every turn. His preaching was misunderstood; his miracles and cures he got no thanks for. The one thing he looked for—to gain love—failed him. Take our Lord’s day; it was one long string of disappointments. … His efforts invariably met with failure.

Fr. Daniel Considine SJ

We end up perceiving life through the lens of the pain in our heart. God wants to give us new sight—His—by which to see ourselves and others.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30

Jesus promises His yoke is easy. Have you ever imagined what it looks like to wear His yoke? Do you envision a yoke around your shoulders with Jesus in a wagon behind you, driving you forward in life?

The yoke of Jesus is His cross. The cross is a double yoke. We all have our crosses to bear. For some reason, our Christian nature can be to carry it alone stoically, crumbling under its weight, knowing God never permits anything we can’t handle. We are told to suffer and offer it up. But we aren’t expected to carry our cross alone. It is made for two to carry, you and Jesus, side-by-side. Jesus wants you to let Him carry your cross with you. To be in your struggle with you.

When you accept the real yoke of Jesus and give in to Him with real surrender, He will carry you personally and intimately. His Holy Spirit will heal the smallest abnormalities, habits, and wounds. As you are healed, He takes up permanent residence in your soul; sanctification. You begin to experience those moments that are a foretaste of Heaven.

“The knowledge that God can prevent bad things often leads to the expectation that he should. And then when such expectations are not met, resentment, disappointment, or anger can follow. Sometimes our anger at God is obvious to us. At other times, however, it can manifest itself more subtly: depression, spiritual sadness, avoidance of God and spiritual things, loss of hope, or a reduction in asking things of God in prayer. Sometimes, too, we like to minimize our anger by saying that we are merely “disappointed,” or “frustrated.” But the reality is that at times we are angry with God, sometimes very angry.”

Monsignor Charles Pope

It takes courage. Courage for the injured child within to say “Ok, I’ll face that scary wound in my heart”. To say to God “Why did you let this happen to me?” The Holy Spirit will open up your heart to express all its fears, doubts, worries, and bitterness. God already knows it all. He’s just waiting for you to start the conversation. He’s a loving Father and doesn’t impose Himself on us.

“Start being brave about everything.”

St. Catherine of Siena

Ask God for the courage to spend 20 minutes a day with Him in silence and have no fear. Ask that he gives you a deep burning desire for Him in your heart. That He protects your precious prayer time so nothing can prevent this. These are the kind of desires He will grant immediately so that you will finally experience true love.

Don’t overlook the gifts God already has for you in your providential plan, including His angels and saints. You’ve been given to them since conception to be cared for. Wow, that is something to ponder for a while! In Lent, we celebrate St. Joseph on March 19th, who is known as the scourge of demons. Even the Mother of God, the Immaculate human destined to crush the head of the serpent with her heel, needed St. Joseph to take care of her. Ask your saints for help!

Lord God, our heavenly Father, you so delight in us, your children. Let me know profoundly your delight in me and the great affection you have for me. Inscribe your covenant so deeply in my heart that I need no experience of your affection for me, for I will have no doubt of it. Heal my woundedness and sinfulness in a way that grows my knowledge and understanding of you so I may love you completely. Purify my heart so I may love others without reciprocation. Give me your eyes to see others for their beauty, not their brokenness.

Give me a new life with my mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let me learn from Mary how to be a son/daughter to her and to you. Let me learn from Mary how to be a spiritual father/mother not only to those you put on my path, but also the strangers and sojourners who I may never see.

In all aspects of my life, make my default Love.

Amen.

 

 

This post was originally published on the Face of Grace Project and is reprinted here with permission.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

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