“Suffering, pain, sorrow, humiliation, feelings of loneliness, are nothing but the kiss of Jesus, a sign that you have come so close that he can kiss you.“-St Teresa of Calcutta
Advent Is A Season Of Waiting
The word Advent means coming. We wait for Christ’s coming at the end of time. We celebrate his coming every day in the Eucharist. And we remember the Israelites waiting for their Messiah before Jesus’s birth. One of my favorite ways to enter into this waiting is to consider Mary awaiting the nativity.
Anyone who has been pregnant can tell you the last month is actually 17 months long. You can’t get around. Everything hurts. Mary had to ride on a donkey like that! Yes, you are huge and uncomfortable, but there’s also a very deep longing to finally meet this new person.
Longing is a love. If you didn’t care then it wouldn’t hurt. Unfortunately, we have lost appreciation for pain for suffering.
We do everything we can to avoid longing. Christmas decorations come out before Halloween in stores. TV channels have rebranded the 12 Days of Christmas into a pre Nativity countdown. At every occasion, we want the feast before the fast. Mainstream culture has abandoned Advent.
The Christian still observing Advent in 2017 is much like a pregnant woman. She hears people talk about this or that upcoming event with glee. But she anticipates something so much more than a Black Friday sale or a Hallmark movie marathon. The awesome privilege of giving life. Or the even greater privilege of the Savior’s life-giving love.
Advent in 2017 is the shortest possible. A mere 21 days. It’s like a bride who comes home from honeymoon already pregnant.
Some of us have a longer wait to meet our child. We waited two years for our son. It’s been nearly four years now that we’re waiting to meet the next child.
For a long time, I believed that infertility was a judgment against me.
I wasn’t good enough to be a mother. My marriage wasn’t strong enough. My faith was insufficient. Even now, sometimes the doubt creeps in that God hasn’t expanded our family because He thinks I’m unable to “handle” the special-needs son I already have.
This stems from a wholly false understanding of suffering. We can suffer alone and in vain. Or, we can practice redemptive suffering.
As Christ shares His redemption with us, he also allows us to share in suffering. So when we give our pain over to Him, we cease to be in a passive state. Instead, through His meritorious Cross, our pain can also achieve merit. Once you inhabit this truth, everything becomes a gift.
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.”- Colossians 1:24
Suffering is not abandonment; it is an embrace. When we suffer, we are being invited to an intimate closeness to Christ.
Waiting is the hunger before a meal. That is why the liturgical calendar schedules a fast before the feast. These are my hungry years. When the emptiness of my arms is almost a physical craving. I may be waiting longer, but that just makes it sweeter.
“It is so good, so sweet, and above all, so beneficial to suffer.”- St Bernadette