Love is patient, Love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek it's own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things...
1 Corinthians 13:4-6
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Mercy is...feeling the pain of Loved Ones
We were preparing for our First Penance/ Confession/ Reconciliation. I did not know what to call it back then. Well, neither did our CCD teachers - it was somewhat confusing. But, no matter what you called it, even though I was as nervous as all getout, I knew I was going to get closer to Christ somehow, and that to me was very exciting.
Then, my catechism teacher took us to the "confessional"; I guess somewhat of a field trip for the day. I now do not remember anything about this class, or even the teachers name unfortunately; I would love to thank her for the teaching that has never left me to this day. In the confessional we stood for a very long time. We stood there and looked at a beautiful wooden crucifix hanging on the wall. His face was beautiful! In so much pain, but so beautiful. The thorns that had bore into his hairline left painful marks that one could only imagine - then there were the wounds from the nails that kept him there. His body so frail, so human. But such a loving face, and in so much pain.
Then she said, "He was thirsty, and asked for a drink... and do you know what they did to him...?" At that point, I couldn't bear the thought. Such a loving, wonderful, sinless man. I knew at this point I loved everything about our Lord. Jesus had been a healer, compassionate, loving...and yet when he suffered, nobody loved back, or had compassion, or healed him. At about nine, this was about the best I could do to understand the passion. I was supposed to believe he did this out of love for us, his mercy and compassion. But, I did not understand that anyone could Love that much. To endure that much pain, and still love; in fact to forgive those that caused him that pain.
As I have grown, I still love the sacrament of confession; and I still love our Lord, and humbled by every thought of the mercy that pours down upon each one of us. I understand that love only to the depths that I as a human can - and yet know it goes much further. Ok, so now I also understand that through God's grace we too are called to share that love and compassion. Great, love the thought. However, I stopped at the possibility of getting beyond our human hangups to accept the suffering that comes at times through that same great Love.
I am beginning to see it a little clearer these days though. How can one suffer without love? There is no question now that we all do have a cross to bear. Whether we accept this fact or not, there is a lot of suffering in this world today. But, I have been witnessing a man suffer to depths that are astounding. Six weeks ago, he was admitted to the hospital, an acute patient with many complications, suffering from an inflammatory blood disorder complicated by blood and liver Syndromes. We receive messages on a daily basis - 6 weeks in ICU, excruciating pain, surgery after surgery...even tonight was sent in for yet another surgery. After the surgery went well, the family after having sent an Urgent plea for prayers for Tim; sent a prayer of Thanksgiving - and asked for prayers for all those that had given blood for Tim to make it through surgery...all 9 of them.
Tim has gone from being one of the healthiest looking people I know, to living on a ventilator, then an oscilator, then back to the ventalator again. And, when he was well enough to be fed by a tube, and get ice chips...we smiled at the story that he said "Grace" in thanksgiving for that gift. Tim is suffering terrible pain, and yet, praying for each of the patients that are on the same floor as him. In ICU for 6 weeks, Tim is fighting a good fight, and without bitterness, or anger, loving everyone that is around him. I understand he prays for each of his nurses as they get off their shift.
I am starting to realize now, the depths of Love that it takes to suffer the pains of the cross. Yes, Tim is experiencing pain and suffering that I cannot even imagine - and through God's grace and abundant peace and consolation, is also experiencing a "love" that is so abundant it can not be expressed. And, those of us touched by Tim's life - and there are so many - are learning from Tim's love.
Lord, I pray for you to bring Tim and his family every consolation. That his sufferings will not burden his body any greater than he can handle; and that he might gain his strength back to continue his witness to those he comes in contact with, especially the Youth at St. Vincent de Paul Church, Dallas, GA and St. Catherine of Siena Kennesaw, GA.