When my hour of suffering comes, when my crosses as a mother unfold, as they poignantly do, I do not always understand. On the hard days, suffering is not something I seamlessly comprehend and even recognize as part of God’s plan. Truth be told, I don’t readily accept. I can be caught crying and shouting inwardly to the heavens over what wrecks me. The wild uncertainties, the disappointments, the pain can cause me to wonder, even to question and then to wrestle with God over what good could possibly come out of these pains cracking my heart open wide. How could this be an offering? In a house full of souls called “near and dear,” this mama can feel alone, scared in the shadowy dark.
And yet Jesus leads us in the way we, in our humanity, never thought possible. Almost incomprehensible. Our redemption in Christ did not come from his wise parables (although powerful) or his benevolent miracles (although supernatural). He redeemed us by embracing his hour and letting himself be broken and given. In gratitude, he thanked the Father in his sovereign will. In this radical act of giving himself sacrificially, he bids me to come – to walk into the radical call of transformation. When my hour comes, my suffering is not meaningless, and I am not alone. The answer is to follow the very way of Christ; the place to run is to the cross. The institution of the Eucharist is a divine, real presence – a real invitation to enter into the mystery and unite my suffering with his.
Part of the mystery is that I may not understand the outcomes of my myriad mothering heartaches today, next week, or maybe even in this present life. But the promise is real; it sustains. He has asked me to participate in the way of salvation. He has crowned me with purpose, with ultimate dignity, and he lovingly sees my participation as unrepeatable and irreplaceable in his kingdom. He presents himself, and in him lies the truth that the most painful cracks have the greatest redemptive meaning and the power to let transformation in.
The number of years I have been a mother are adding up, and yet, despite my experience, I am deeper in the thick of it than ever before. I am now mothering a child in utero, elementary-aged children, a teenager, and an adult child, all while caring for aging parents. In my messy need, I see God’s loving hand. He means always to draw me in deeper, to take me to the depths of seeing more of him, of knowing his unfailing love. He knows my life calls for a continual practice of repentance – repentance in the literal sense – a turning back to God when I do not know the way.
Today the church enters into three of the most sacred, holy days of the year, the Triduum. These three days comprise remembrance of the most poignant, active moments of Jesus’s entire existence as the God-man. This is when his love became the most passionate gift of all. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus sustaining me in the Eucharist, my suffering is redemptive beyond imagination. He works beyond my understanding because he is good beyond my imagination. When I face the dark, when I face my loneliest pains, when I physically falter in utter exhaustion—these are the times when I have a most pivotal invitation to activate my life in Christ. What the sovereign God wills now, I may not understand, but all suffering will be transformed, and it will be worth it all. How great is his Eucharistic love!