”Be exalted, O God above the heavens. Let your glory be all over the earth.” (–Psalm 57:11)
Who would have thought one year ago today I would be praising the Triune God; raising my voice in daily supplication through the Holy Rosary, Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Chaplet of Mercy, Mass, the Holy Eucharist, etc., in reparation for the sins committed against the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary, for the conversion of sinners, the poor souls in purgatory, and those souls who have no one to pray and sacrifice for them?
And yet, here I am, all the glory to God, doing that very thing — praying, sacrificing, converting, and believing; asking Jesus through His Holy Mother to show me the way in accordance with His will, not mine.
I am NOT tooting my spiritual horn. I still have a long journey ahead of me with no guarantee that I will see my precious Savior at the end.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
We must always submit ourselves to the Father’s will and pray we are cognizant of and obedient to His will.
Although I did not know when the ”Jesus Train” would arrive, I knew in my heart that it was coming. That is why my response when the train pulled into the station last year to Jesus’ shout, ”All Aboard!’‘ — was, ”Yes Lord, here I am!”
In the beginning, like Moses, I questioned Jesus about his choice in me, ”Who am I, the least of my Father’s sinful children; the least colorful flower in His garden, more like a weed, who is about as dumb as a box of rocks, that my Lord would invite me to share a seat on His train?”
… and yet, here I am the most unworthy of God’s children, privileged to share a small hidden corner of the caboose with the giants of our faith — Padre Pio, Mother Teresa, Pope St. John Paul II, St. Bernadette, Sts. Francisco and Jacinta Marto, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Maximillion Kolbe, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, St. Dominic Savio, St. Catherine Laboure, Sr. Lucia of Fatima, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony, and so many more.
I actually do not mind the caboose. I really don’t. In fact, I prefer it. Sure, there was once upon a time when pride and arrogance were once my friends, albeit not true friends, who would have demanded and insisted that the only place for me on any train, plane, or automobile is at the front. First class or nothing!
Who am I kidding? Anyone who knows me knows full well that I never listened to pride and arrogance to the point that I actually believed I am above my fellow brother or sister in Christ and that my only place is at the front.
To the contrary!
I was never comfortable living like the rich man. I am always happiest with the poor and less fortunate. I suppose that is because I can identify with their suffering.
Perhaps empathize is the better word to use rather than identify for my blessings in life have never taken me to the level of poverty (long or short-term) that so many of my brothers and sisters have experienced the world over. As if I had a connected understanding of the true suffering of the poor when I do not.
What do I know about living like a child in a village in Africa where there is little to no water, food, shelter, clothing or medical assistance?
What do I know what it is like to have to flee my home and live in daily fear because the country I live in is ravaged with factions fighting constantly due to limited resources, religious beliefs, etc?
What do I know what it is like to go without when my closet and drawers are filled with more clothes and pairs of underwear than most people in many countries around the world can even dream of possessing?
What do I know what it is like to go hungry when my waist size has expanded four inches in 16 years? Obviously, I am eating well.
I do not know what it feels like to physically suffer as described above.
When I think about all I have to complain about (and I should not complain at all), is the inconvenience of the washer machine becoming temporarily inoperable or that I am out of milk or that dinner wasn’t exactly what I wanted to eat or that the house has a slight chill or because I have to go to work or take care of my aging parent — when you compare my inconveniences to true suffering (as described above), it puts life into perspective.
I should be on my knee’s day and night praising Jesus for my blessings and inconveniences and imploring His mercy upon those who live in other parts of the world who truly know and understand what real suffering is all about.
Then I should, during those times when I am not on my knee’s, put my faith into action by doing something to help the poor and less fortunate. If not in Africa or some other desolate place around the globe, then within my own backyard. There are brothers and sisters within my own community who have no place to shelter themselves from the cold, no jacket to wear, no warm meal in their stomach, no friend to hug because he or she is hurting and needs a should to cry on.
The caboose on Jesus’ train is perfectly fine for me. Let those who truly understand suffering have the comfortable seat and warm meal. They deserve it.
I believe charity first begins with prayer. Let us fall to our knees every day and pray the mercy of Christ over those who need it most, especially for those souls who have no one to pray for them. And as the Angel of Peace and Our Lady said at Fatima in 1917 — offer sacrifices in reparation for sin and for the conversion of sinners.