“If you wish to go to extremes,
let it be in sweetness,
patience, humility and charity.” – St. Philip Neri
We read or hear a lot about people on the “extreme left” or the “extreme right.” I wish we heard more about people who are “extremely patient, humble, or charitable.” But, of course, we don’t and that’s our misfortune.
Charity is another word for love. Love is willing the good of the other. Love is about selflessness and sacrifice. Love is also about humility and patience, actually. So I guess if we are “extremely charitable,” we would already be humble and patient.
Philip Neri’s words above are a reflection of Jesus for He is all those things. He is our fearless Leader, I’ve said more than once. And He tells us quite plainly to take up our cross and follow Him. That’s what happens when you’re humble and patient and sweet to the most extreme degrees.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that because of some deep losses a couple of friends of mine are experiencing right now. Life altering losses. And when the loved ones pass away to their eternal rest and perpetual Light, we can, and hopefully will, find comfort in that knowledge. But they – as we all do when we lose loved ones – will miss those who’ve gone on before us.
When we are racked with grief, it’s hard to think about Jesus. And that’s OK. He understands. Jesus just sits with us, tenderly collecting our tears and holding us in His Sacred Heart as He weeps with us.
But at other times, when we’re resting and the loss is not as fresh (the time frame is different for each of us; don’t rush), we can contemplate the Lord of all Creation, the Word who was with God from eternity and who IS God, in a Garden asking His Father to spare His life. We can envision with our mind’s eye, the Divine Healer, torn skin, bleeding and bruised, unable to breathe, unable to see because of the blood in His eyes from the crown of thorns some sadistic Roman soldier had pushed into His scalp.
And we can realize that Jesus had to suffer because that is part of the human condition. And if He was going to save us, He needed to become one of us and that includes pain and sometimes rejection or abandonment. Or both. Sometimes being human means betrayal and loneliness. While this truth is tough to admit, it’s also incredibly heartening to think that Jesus, the God-man, was willing to do that for us.
Without His own lived experience with pain, emotional and physical, God could only pity us. He would remain distant. But, that’s not how our God willed things. As anyone who has lived through a rough period knows, there is empathy and understanding if we’ve “been there, done that” ourselves. Jesus, in the deepest, “extreme humility” became human for us. He loved us that much and then He died for us.
But, praise Him, Jesus rose again on the 3rd day. Resurrection of the body, the physical body of Jesus, means our physical bodies will rise one glorious day, too. And, once again, we will be following the Leader! As any good leader does, Jesus wills the good of the other. The supreme Good!
Here’s a song about the silence of God. The God who we sometimes feel abandons us in moments of fear and pain, He’s right there with you. He’s the man of sorrows. Tell Him your fears and cry out in the suffering. And then, one day, in God’s good time, you will know the joy that Jesus knows. We get to follow Him all the way to Heaven.