By Deacon Derick CranstonWe achieve the height of our very being by living and breathing in the divine atmosphere of God’s love. The essence of who we truly are is found here.
How we get here is not by our own efforts but through the grace of our Creator; the grace of Christ who brings us into the beatific vision of God’s presence. Christ did this for us because he loved us. And it was painful.
The pinnacle of love is reached through the suffering of a broken life. There is one thing I can predict about those of you who are reading these words right now. You have not lived a pain-free life. Some of you have probably experienced much pain in your life.
When we have pain and suffering in our life we can open our hearts to the healing presence of God’s love, or withdraw into ourselves. When we withdraw into ourselves, what love we do have withers up and dries until our soul becomes a parched and brittle husk. A dead womb that contains no life nor is capable of producing new life.
But the Word was made flesh and the fruit of thy womb Jesus poured himself out like a libation into the broken clay pot of human life. Christ’s outpouring of himself is the living water that gives new life through baptism. This is the living water that can bring a dry husk back to life. We simply have to kneel down and drink from the stream by the wayside and lift up our head.
Kneeling down and humbling ourselves can be the hardest part, though. Vanity is the first sin that humanity grappled with and lost. It was the vanity of Adam and Eve that the snake fed into when he promised them they could become like gods if they took a bite of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.
Vanity keeps us from admitting that we are broken vessels and refuses to let us admit that we are weak and can do nothing without God. Overcoming vanity is the first step to opening the window of our heart to God’s love. If we let the light of the Son’s love shine within us it will nurture the seed of God’s law written on each of our hearts, the law of love.
Our love of God and love of neighbor can flourish and grow through him, with him and in him. Even in suffering, our love can grow stronger and deeper. Our pain and suffering can produce much fruit in this life and the next. For as we discover in the beatitudes when confronted by suffering, “Rejoice and be glad, because your reward is great in heaven.”
(Deacon Cranston is pastoral associate for St. Mary Parish in Riverside, Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)