We hear often that we as Christians are called to “give until it hurts” and are often directed to look to the poor widow who gave her last coin as a herald of true generosity. She held nothing back from God, giving until she had nothing left. Yet, as we consider this self-sacrificial type of giving, the hidden truth we are prone to overlook is that our ability to be generous is itself a gift from God.
Our ability to be generous is a reminder of God’s immense generosity toward us. The more we give, the more we are reminded of how much we have and how much we have been given by God. The word “generosity” is derived from the Latin word “generōsus” meaning “of noble birth”. When we act generously, we are reminded of our own nobility as sons and daughters of the King of kings. “Through a sincere gift of ourselves, we find ourselves”: Princes and Princesses in the heavenly kingdom (Saint John Paul II). Moreover, as Saint Therese of Lisieux reminds us, each of the sacrifices we make adds a pearl to our heavenly crowns. What a gift God gives us in each opportunity to give generously of ourselves!
These words of Jesus on the cross express his physical longing…A desire that we can relate to. Thirst expresses a lack, a desire that not only wants to be filled, but needs to be filled in order to survive.
But this thirst of Christ goes beyond just the physical…This is a craving for something deeper.
This is a thirst for love.
I’ve always had a great longing in my heart….a longing to be loved and to belong. I’ve had a deep desire to be accepted, and I’ve wanted so badly to be noticed.
There was nothing wrong with those desires…they were written on my feminine heart. They were there to move me to union and communion, a good and holy desire.
Ladies. I have a confession.
I am terrible at delayed gratification.
Yesterday a good friend of mine made Captain Crunch milkshakes. Your eyes do not deceive you. CAPTAIN CRUNCH MILKSHAKES, LADIES. A glorious combination of sugary cereal goodness and ice cream blended to perfection.
Katie: Hi Ladies! As we start Lent, we wanted to do a blog post welcoming you to the Behold family. A little intro- I’m Katie, the founder of Behold, and I’m here with Alex, our creative director!
As we write this, it is a few days before Lent, and we’re sitting at our favorite place to work on Behold...A cute little coffee shop here in NJ. So, treat yo-self, brew your favorite coffee at home (unless you gave that up for Lent), and join in with us!
As I spent some time before the Lord in prayer just before Mass at the Christmas Vigil, I was reading a reflection which visualized the nativity. The imagery struck me. 2000 years ago, in a dark, stinky cave, which was cold and uncomfortable, the Light of the World was born. It was as though God picked the complete opposite circumstance to show forth His glory.
Likewise, on the cross, Jesus experienced spiritual isolation and darkness. In a time of immense suffering, the salvation of the world came forth. Isn’t this the same with our own lives? How often can we go to prayer, feeling we have nothing to give to the Lord? In the dryness of our spiritual lives, we can often feel like we are immersed in the dark - a place we can doubt where the Lord could be present to us. Like the stable of Bethlehem, we can feel lowly and insufficient. Though this can be an unexpected place, it can be where Christ is born into our own hearts.
Instead of being born in the brilliance of a castle or even just a well-lit room, Jesus was born in darkness. In spiritual darkness, we are asked to give birth to Christ. It is in the lack of comfort in trials that our hearts are purified- prayer becomes less about what we get, and more about loving Christ- if we let it.
When I look at Christ in this image, I feel as though the humanity of Jesus is inescapable. Often in art red clothing means humanity, while blue refers to divinity. We see this most times in icons, and older sacred art. In this image we see Christ fully clothed in red- embracing the pain of His humanity- and a blue cloth laying over his back and touching the ground, not rejecting His divinity, but allowing us to see both perfectly. Something I often struggle to see- all of Him. The fullness of Jesus. Christ- fully divine, and fully man experienced the light and darkness of what it means to be human. He knew the joy and triumph of the Resurrection, but before that He knew agony in such a way He sweat out blood and cried out for His Father.
As I sit here and watch Him ache in the agony of the garden, I can think of all the times I ran from my agony, the times in which I left Him in the garden to suffer by Himself, but how He has never allowed me to suffer alone. I ponder the aching of my Lord, and I realize how often I do not allow myself to be as He did. Even Jesus- Lord of all, allowed Himself to feel agony, to experience the pain of rejection, the agonizing ache of knowing what’s to come. Never to run from it, or sweep it under the rug, but He really let Himself feel it… and yet He didn’t let it control Him.
There He sits- knowing how often I would reject Him, knowing all of the times I would choose someone or something over Him, knowing all that I would do and still going forward with His passion.
How often I forget that it is not only I who needs consolation, but my God. His hands are folded weakly in prayer. He looks exhausted, and tried. The angel tries to comfort Him, knowing of the wounds He is about to experience, embracing Jesus with as much compassion as possible. The King of the Universe, in agony, understood great darkness, and yet through the night, He shown great light. Rays of light literally shine from Him in this painting- a beautiful reminder that He is the light of the world.
So, as I sit and wonder how anyone could go through this and still love the way He did- with a love that goes to the very end- I ask you, my sisters, in what ways are we running from Christ in the garden? Do we reject Him when He asks us to keep watch with Him? Do we believe that He will never let us suffer alone, as we have let Him?
Remember, Christ knows great darkness, but He is the greatest light.
“The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness does not overcome it.” | John 1:5 |
(The image "Christ in Gethsemane by Carl Bloch can be found at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%27Christ_in_Gethsemane%27_by_Carl_Heinrich_Bloch,_1880.jpg)