No Joy Too Heavy To Bear

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Mass at CYMC with 40+ priests on the altar!

     “Can God make a stone so heavy that even He could not pick it up?” Before you worry yourself with trying to give an answer to this silly question, as if the answer could prove God’s existence, know that it is just a bad question in the first place. Know, first of all, that God just won’t do anything that is meaningless. The question is meaningless, and it’s not until we realize that will we be able to say to others and say to God himself with our hearts that we believe in a God who not only gives us meaning, but is our meaning. If the Crucifix is just another bloody criminal on a cross, some poor tortured peasant put to death for no good reason, then God made a stone that was too big for his own strength. But if the Crucifixion was indeed the Son of God, the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15), made flesh and dwelling among us (John 1: 14), freely, totally, fruitfully, and faithfully giving His life for us, then that question about the stone makes absolutely no sense.

     But I’ve been running up against that big, heavy stone a lot these last couple of weeks.

     It’s just that I can get so impatient sometimes. It’s just like that feeling, and I’m sure you know what I mean, when we feel so ready for something, so ready and so called to get out there and make our mark, so ready and so sure that God wants us to be somewhere else doing great things. But in fact, we become so sure of this and we look so far ahead and so far away, that we forget that God has a plan for us right where we are and that we’re probably the ones who are most likely to get in our own way!  

     You see, I just realized this is a tough time of the year for me, not because there’s not much joy, but because of the impatience that tries to work its way into my life and my vocation. If anything, then, there’s probably too much joy in my life! I just got to see two of my seminarian brothers ordained to the priesthood; I just got back from something like I’ve never experienced before in Arizona with John and Laura and some other really great friends as we all prayed and worshipped and learned more and more about how to better serve all of you; and I got to spend some good time with Laura and her good friend, “Baby Priest” Fr. Mark, seeing what it’s really like to be a newly ordained priest.

     And with all this joy, the devil’s been trying to work impatience into my vocation. All week long I looked at those sixty-plus priests at the Convention with admiration; I listened to missionaries talking about spending years at a time evangelizing throughout the world and I wanted to drop everything and go with them; and I heard so many great witnesses, knowing it was my time to listen, but wanting so deeply to get up there and share my own. And the day after I got back and went to daily Mass, we had no priest. So I felt helpless all week, like I wanted to get up there and be the one to preach, be the one to lead these people, be the one to do it now, only to have those four more years staring me right back in the face. More and more, I was being drawn away from the here and now, wanting so badly to skip ahead those four years and be who I probably am not even ready to be.

     Impatience is a struggle in our life, and joy can be twisted into frustration. Still, all I can say is that God does not make stones that are too heavy to carry. They can be pretty heavy and they can bow our backs and crush our hopes, but they’re not too heavy for God, whose own Son was broken and tattered on that Cross, and lifted up, stronger, more fearless, and more beautiful than ever. Our patience needs to take on that face of being fearless. And that fearlessness needs to take on that face of Christ’s passion. Maybe this impatience has been put on my heart to set me on fire for what is yet to come, to prepare my heart for the passion that needs to resound in the life of a priest. What is it in your life that you can’t wait for, that you feel so anxious about? Is God calling you to simply skip it, as if you don’t need to ready your heart for it, or is He calling you to face it head on?

     So if our impatience makes joy seem impossible, we’ve got to remember that our God does not do stupid, pointless things. Otherwise He would not be God. And so if I might be reminded of probably the most important thing I heard all week: if we really believe that the God of all things, all things, comes to us and humbly, vulnerably offers us his body, His very self, in the Eucharist, and we consume Him and He consumes us, why are we afraid of anything? Yeah, God makes us joyful, but that doesn’t mean we won’t experience impatience and frustration. What it does mean is that in the face of impatience and fear, impatience for school to end, fear of  family problems that just won’t go away, we are made fearless. With faith, with our God, no joy, no sorrow, no stone is too heavy to bear.

-Tim (ST)

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