By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
“Love makes burdens lighter, because you divide them. It makes joys more intense, because you share them.” - Anonymous
“Love makes burdens lighter…” I recall a time when my husband had received an abnormal test result, and we were facing the possibility that he had cancer. As we prayed and waited for a series of follow-up tests, we shared the news with some close friends, so they could pray for us too. We were with our friends the day we received the good news that there was no cancer after all, and the wife immediately praised God and started to cry. The relief they were expressing was bigger than even our own. They proceeded to share how they prayed every night as a family for Rick’s health, and how they cried sometimes at night when they thought of what we were going through. What was amazing to me was that, during the whole ordeal, Rick and I had experienced a peace we could not explain. We both had a sense of trust and resignation, knowing that whatever the outcome, we would be ok. When our friends shared their story with us we realized what had happened. They had literally carried our burden for us. “Love makes burdens lighter, because you divide them.”
“Love makes joys more intense…” Those of you who have been following our blog for a while are aware that last November our dear friend Ray, Laura’s husband, received a long-awaited liver transplant. Talk about an occasion where we were carrying each other’s burdens! I can not begin to imagine the weight of the cross Ray and Laura were called to carry during this time, but it must have been really heavy, because so many of us felt the need to carry a piece of it in our hearts. We were with Laura the day she received the call that a liver had been found for Ray and God had answered our prayers. We were about to begin a day of retreat with the Associates of the Blessed Sacrament (in Florida) when she received the call and was told she had to rush to the airport to meet Ray in the hospital in New York City. She went up to the podium and shared the news with our community of Associates, who had been faithfully and relentlessly praying for a miracle… “Ray got a liver!” The burst of absolute joy that enveloped that room was the closest I have been to experiencing what I think Pentecost might have felt like for the Apostles in the Upper Room. There were tears of joy, hugs, and a love so palpable that we could not stop talking about it and praising God long after Laura left for the airport. One of the priests said later, “we will not forget this moment for a long time.” … “Love makes joys more intense, because you share them.”
Our lives are meant to be shared, lived in community with others. This is what it means to live a life centered around the Eucharist. Our whole lives become the bread that is blessed, broken and shared. It is in the sharing of the cross that we find a participation in the joy to come. It was only through walking with others in their pain and suffering that we were able to fully participate in the joy of their restoration. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). Yet it is much easier to be the one helping carry the burden of another, than being the one who needs to ask for help.
I find it interesting that when we hear the phrase “be Christ to others”, we usually think of being the one serving, like Jesus did on Holy Thursday, when He washed the disciple’s feet. (Jn 13:1-20) We are happy to be the one helping others carry their cross. We make a meal for a friend who is sick; we lend a shoulder or a listening ear for someone who is lonely. And this is good, very good indeed. We are not only called, but required to performs acts of mercy like these, but for you to be able to give, someone has to be willing to receive.
Jesus was also the one who needed Simon of Cyrene to help Him carry His Cross. (Lk 23:26) He was the one crucified, vulnerable, naked, the one who cried out “I thirst”. (Jn 19:28) We can’t choose to be Jesus on Holy Thursday and say no to being Jesus on Good Friday. If we truly want to be imitators of Christ, furthermore, if we are to become what we eat, we must allow ourselves to be broken for others… For it is in when we let others walk with us that we “fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2) “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13). So next time we feel tempted to be self-reliant, let us remember that to be God-reliant is to see Jesus in those around us. Let us ask for the grace to have the humility to accept that today might be our turn to have someone wash our feet, to allow someone to share their love.