Quite recently, the Lord gave me a great gift, which is to know that I am loved even unto death. This is not just to say that Jesus loved me so much that He died for me, but also that He loves me so much to let me die in a thousand little ways because only this will bring me my heart's desire: Heaven.
Now here is the reality: we have to die before we get to Heaven. This is as true physically as it is spiritually; for every time we die to ourselves and allow the Lord to raise us up again, we are a little closer to Heaven. In realizing all of this, I have come to understand that I am loved even unto death. I am very resistant to this of course because dying is painful and not something I want to do, but my Beloved loves me so much that He allows me to die many times during the day, to the point that in frustration I wish I could have a break from what seems like an endless cycle. Oh but He loves me too much to allow me to miss a moment to be closer to Him.
There was a while when I thought that love was mostly service, and that in serving we show love best. Indeed I looked at my sweet Jesus washing the feet of His disciples and saw love, and this is not wrong, but there is something missing if this is the only love we show. There is something beyond choosing to do the dishes or bringing in the groceries.
I turn my attention to other ways that Jesus loved. “He turned around and looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as humans do'.” This was a powerful act of love on Jesus’ part, because love is also suffering, it’s also dying. How it must have hurt Peter to be accused of being “Satan” by his best friend, all because he didn’t want his friend to suffer, he wanted him to be upheld and defended. But this was an act of love for Jesus because He didn’t want his friend to see only through human eyes, He wanted him to see with the eyes of Heaven. And when Jesus would allow himself to be nailed to a tree He would reveal love through the eyes of Heaven. It is the challenge to something greater that Jesus presents to Peter and so many others, because even though He knows it will mean many little deaths and suffering for them, He loves them so much that He wants them to embrace the opportunity to grow closer to the Father. The reward of the Resurrection is greater than the horror of the Passion and the grave.
There are so many little opportunities to spiritually die to oneself during the day, not getting the dessert you really want, passing up something you enjoy so that someone else can enjoy it instead, etc. All of these mortifications can seem like little deaths, but in my own life I find that the real deaths are the little things that I don’t choose and don’t expect. This might be a change of schedule, not being able to help with something as planned, playing the game you don’t like, or keeping from saying something the way you prefer to say it. And then there is always the case of apologizing when you find yourself in the wrong, which is in some ways a death, but actually is the first light of the resurrection, which hurts because you must go from darkness to light, but which soon proves to reveal a beauty that you couldn’t anticipate when in the grave.
I have found that I am loved even unto death, as through my sisters the Lord pushes me to never stop running the race, and when I am tired He still uses them to push me harder. Oh, what a blessing to have my sisters who love me enough to not let me tire, and to call me beyond myself relentlessly! Indeed I thought I loved them because I embraced these deaths for them, but how much it means to know that they love me so much that they let me die and don’t let me miss an opportunity for it. They want Heaven for me, and I want it for them, so why would I let them settle for comfort even for a moment. Or take away a chance when they might grow in one way or another? Yes it hurts but I would love them less if I didn’t let them suffer and die, for only by suffering, dying, and rising with the Lord will we be closer to Heaven. And this is true for any relationship fueled by love, because true love does not let the beloved limit themself by the measure of men, but by the measure of Heaven itself.
Love. Yes Christ loved us to the cross, and we too are to love to the cross, but also, like Mary, we are meant to accompany those we love to the cross, not keeping them from it, but in true love challenging them to it. Thank you to my dear Sisters who love me too much to let me settle for anything less than the love of Heaven, I pray only that I may love you so much as to push you there as well.
Happy Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes!
God's will be done.
With Mary in the Eucharist.