Photo: Marian Archives
Come, Lord Jesus
By Br. Leonard Konopka, MIC (Dec 4, 2006)
"I will spend this Advent in accordance with the direction of the Mother of God: in meekness and humility. ... With great longing, I am waiting for the Lord's coming. Great are my desires. I desire that all humankind come to know the Lord. I would like to prepare all nations for the coming of the Word Incarnate. O Jesus, make the fount of Your mercy gush forth more abundantly, for humankind is seriously ill and thus has more need than ever of Your compassion. You are a bottomless sea of mercy for us sinners; and the greater the misery, the more right we have to Your mercy. You are a fount which makes all creatures happy by Your infinite mercy."
— Diary of St. Faustina, 792-793
Recently, a mother told me how impressed she was when a priest gathered all the young children at the altar after Mass. Since they were not able to receive the Eucharist, he wanted them to experience something for being at Mass. He placed his hand on their head and blessed each one and told them how special they were.
Her reflection brought to my mind how Our Lord, like this priest, reaches out to us — not only through a gentle touch, but with His very life and everything He has to offer us. However, the most loving touch, significant, beautiful and endearing as it can be, is short lived. Life with Him is eternal. Jesus relishes giving Himself and His mercy to us completely, which is the reason for His Incarnation.
Our Lord came as a child. He became like us and took upon Himself the whole experience of our existence. He wanted us to realize that He is not detached from, nor indifferent to, our need to be in a significant relationship. This is also the meaning of the Incarnation. We often find it difficult to realize Christ's vast ability to communicate His tremendous interest in our salvation. He made Himself so small, so humble, that we often miss what it is He is trying to communicate. We can never totally grasp His humility, nor quite understand why He would allow Himself to be so vulnerable. It's contrary to our understanding of power, influence, and self-esteem. We need the insights of others to grasp this unique mystery that is required for our salvation.
Saint Faustina is one of the saints to whom Our Lord generously revealed His total vulnerability. We can begin to understand through her experiences with the Christ Child, God's purpose in making Himself so small. St. Faustina writes:
Jesus, You are so little, and yet I know that You are my Creator and my Lord." And Jesus answered me: "I am, and I keep company with you as a child to teach you humility and simplicity" (Diary, 184).
Our Lord continues in this same vein when He says: "Although My greatness is beyond understanding, I commune only with those who are little. I demand of you a childlike spirit" (Diary, 332).
Our Lord is also inviting us to become as vulnerable to Him as He allows Himself to become continually vulnerable to us. This is especially evident at Mass and when He remains Present in the tabernacle, though Jesus doesn't want to remain there alone. He increases that desire in us to be in relationship with Him through every event that we encounter, regardless of our circumstances.
If He only remained in heaven, we'd get the impression He is indifferent. Therefore, He had to come down to be with us. In total humility, He now remains with us, not only as the Incarnate Word, but as hidden in a little piece of bread — the Heavenly Bread come down from heaven. He desires to be part of our lives. He desires to be the Lord of every facet of our existence, if we only let Him. All of our life's experiences — whether joys or sorrows, success or failure, lack of seeming control and the shifting mood of our feelings — are grist for the mill of His reaching out to us. He tries in every way possible to knock on the door of our hearts and minds. It's His way to invite us into a deeper relationship, into true intimacy of our humanity with divinity.
We can deepen this relationship when we try in simple and childlike trust to give Him permission to assist us. We give Him permission when we yield ourselves to His will in our lives. He made Himself a model and invites us to respond with trust to all the events He permits (see Diary, 529). For example, Jesus humbles Himself every day when He allows the priest to call upon Him to be with us through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and in obedience He hears and responds. It's our choice to have Him remain as long as we allow.
When we realize the extreme measure by which our Lord surrendered Himself to His Father in Gethsemane and at Calvary, we can see the depths of His definition of love. Nothing was simply sentimental or mindless obedience. All came from the depth of His love of the Father; He had come to do the Father's will. He invites us to surrender to the Father's will as His love moved Him to do. Through prayer, we can prepare ourselves for everything that comes from the person Jesus. From Him, who is Love Incarnate, we can pray to receive the grace to know that all comes to us through the supreme act of His surrendering love of the Father.
Mother Teresa wrote the following for her sisters and placed it below the image of the cross: "See what it is to love."
Because He loved us first, we can believe that whatever He permits us to experience, whether joys or sorrows, sickness or health, victories or losses, fears and doubts, we can be confident and trust that He is with us. This is precisely the message of His mercy when we begin to understand and appropriate it out in our lives. It's also another way of understanding the Incarnation.
The Advent season can convey to us the value of having an open heart and mind for what He may be trying to teach us by His coming. This is what He tried to teach St. Faustina:
"I want to teach you spiritual childhood. I want you to be very little, because when you are little, I carry you close to My heart, just as you are holding Me close to your heart right now" (Diary, 1481).
The great and the powerful of this world may not grasp this unique privilege that Our Lord wishes to extend. Blessed are those in our midst who seemingly are aware of His deep desire to be in union with us and strive to yield to Him at every moment. That becomes their gift to the Christ Child from which they reap abundantly throughout the remainder of their lives. "Eye has not seen, nor ear has heard, nor heart of man conceived, what things God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor 2:9).
Brother Leonard Konopka, MIC, is on the staff of the Marian Seminary in Washington, D.C. He also provides spiritual direction, retreats, and seminars. Brother Leonard has a leaflet available that has a series of meditations on the five wounds of our Lord. The meditations are intended for use while praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. Click here to order Contemplate My Wounds. He also has a CD available with the meditations on the five wounds, interspered with the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. Click here to order A Musical Interlude.