By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
This past week my husband and I went to visit my aunt, who is very sick at this time. When we entered the room in the facility she is at, we found her husband, falling asleep in a hard hospital chair while she rested on her bed. He looked exhausted. He has been caring for his sick wife for a while now. We stopped by to see her on our way to dinner, and, although it is not how either one of us would have planned to spend the evening of our 27th wedding anniversary, I can see now that God had a better plan.
“In sickness and in health.” The vows we took 27 years ago took on a different tone as I looked at my uncle and was reminded of what they really mean, a total gift of self. It is the reminder that to love is to will the good of the other, at the expense of our own desires, and sometimes even our needs. It is a surrender to the will of God as it is presented in the moment in front of us, and not as we wish it would be. It is in that moment, in the struggle, on the cross, that love shines like the sun.
The lyrics from the hymn Lord Who Throughout These Forty Days come to mind:
"As you did hunger and did thirst,
so teach us, gracious Lord,
to die to self, and so to live
by your most holy Word.
And through these days of penitence,
and through your Passiontide,
forevermore, in life and death,
O Lord, with us abide.
Abide with us, that so, this life
of suffering over past,
an Easter of unending joy
we may attain at last.”
The word abide means to bear patiently; to tolerate. In the words of the hymn above we ask Jesus to abide with us through the dark times; to tolerate us. I know that when I am sick and not feeling well, I am not the best company for my husband. I become intolerant of the situation and become difficult to tolerate in turn. Yet, in bearing patiently with me during those times, the love we have for each other grows.
As we walked out of my aunt’s room, we quietly held hands. Our hearts were heavy, but in that pain, there was gratitude and hope; the hope that through the grace of the sacrament of marriage we will each have what it takes when we are called to put our vows to the test. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2). “"Love one another… As I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).