I besought the Lord that it might depart from me. And He said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee, for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Love endureth all things
In the Second Epistle of Blessed Paul to the Corinthians we are given a sight full of pain, trials, and betrayal. How often do we beg the Father as St. Paul did that trials depart from us? But rarely do such tribulations part from us quickly or easily. Some how Paul glories in his infirmities. This is certainly not because he is some sort of masochist but in order that the power of Christ might dwell in him. What is this power that Christ possesses which endures such infirmities? Christ in His awful agony said to the Father “Father, if thou wilt, remove this chalice from me: but yet not my will, but thine be done.” For what reason could a man drink from so bitter a chalice other than love for his beloved? “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Obedient even unto death
Yet how does such love, how does imitating Christ dispose St. Paul to have the power of God dwell within him? In humility he bears every crosses, in humility he is obedient to Divine Providence come whatever may. Our Lord tells us in the Gospel of John, “If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him.” It is by love that we keep the word of Christ and it is in keeping the word of Christ that we prepare a dwelling place for the Godhead. Paul cannot love as Christ loved without obeying as his Christ obeyed. So ought we to accept the cross in joy and drink from the chalice with such hope.
Incline the ear of thy heart
St. Benedictine gives us this poignant line in the first sentence of his Holy Rule which shouts Christ’s admonition. The parable in the Gospel of Mark which mirrors the Gospel of Luke read today ends with our Lord saying, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” When the word of God who is Christ is sown in the heart of man, will it bear fruit? Only if he listens. Christ says, “But that on the good ground are they who in a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it and bring forth fruit in patience.” The heart must be prepared and cultivated to receive the word; it must be one which is willing to hear and not simply one which happens to hear. Often times we are at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and hear the words of scripture throughout the entirety of the liturgy (not merely in the Epistle and Gospel) yet we don’t received it because we are not prepared and disposed to it. When you go into prayer, especially when reading scripture, prepare yourself for the gravity of the situation. Make sure you have placed yourself in an environment where the Word can take root. Apart from those precious moments of mental prayer, constantly place yourself in an environment where in loving you are obedient to God and his infinite providence. This is why we say to incline the ear of your heart. Inclining or bowing is the sign of submission and acceptance. A proud man hears, but his heart is stiff and harden. Though inclining the heart may shatter the hardened ground the seed will be able to sink into your very being.
Patient in tribulation. Instant in prayer.
The Lord forewarns us that fruit will be brought forth only in patience. Yet how often do we become discouraged in our spiritual life when we don’t instantly receive a consolation? We enter a trial expecting to bear our cross, yet in the thick of it we wonder why this is happening. Did we not expect the suffering? Or did we expect the pain to be more comfortable than it is? My good people, be patient with others. Be patient with circumstances. Be patient with your own frailty. But how? How can we endure this valley of tears? Be instant in prayer. Cry to the Lord in your distress and trust in His providence. Though rarely instantaneous and even more rarely in the manner we often wish, the Lord will hear and perfectly answer ever prayer. Your faith will bear fruit. Even if such fruits are not revealed in this life, “lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven.” May God bless you and yours. May he put a new song in your mouth. May he make of you a Simeon Song.