Today’s first reading, from the second Letter of Saint Paul to Timothy: Beloved: Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.
If this were several years ago and I was attracted to this title, only to read the first quote from Scripture, likely I would silently shrug my shoulders and think, really? Isn’t it enough that I pour myself out all day: changing diapers, cooking with the ingredients on sale, paying some bills and not others, schooling my kids (enough to qualify for a one room schoolhouse), refereeing kids, wanting the older ones to do “more”, and thinking what a great job the four-year-old did vacuuming? I would have read that verse and wondered am I being told to pray harder? To be more holy? To suffer it well? What more is there? I would have been pregnant, probably due any day, and kind of at the end of my rope. I would have been tired, knowing that when my head hit the pillow I would cry silently, remembering all the little moments of the day when I dropped the ball—when I was not present to one of the kids or when I lost my temper. I may have wanted to be held, perhaps affirmed by wonderful comforting, encouraging words.
Back then I did not have a “me” in my life: an older woman, replete with many grandchildren, who had raised a tribe—a woman who had discovered a secret to embracing the daily duty. A woman who found that strength that comes from God.
Saint John Paul II named it the feminine genius. This genius is an insight into the human person: people should be recognized and loved for what they are – human persons – not for secondary characteristics like beauty or usefulness. This understanding is made clear when a woman discovers she is pregnant and welcomes the new life within her as a person.
You, sister, and I both love persons. When you hold your newborn in your arms, you love this unique new person. When we stop and steal a look at our older child, we can see clearly who that child is, as person. We may get bogged down in our day-to-day responsibilities raising these persons, yet, in any given moment, we can see immediately their individual worth and dignity. Your husband and mine, the married “us,” as persons. And our spousal relationships are a source of grace, of the invisible being made visible. We can put our heads on our pillows at night and lament the times we allowed an interior thought to become an action towards a misbehaving child, knowing that there is redemption, there is forgiveness, there is a time to make all things new.
Beloved: Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.
You and I are Beloved. We can bear our share of hardship for love, with the strength that comes from a God, our Triune God from three persons in one God. We, made in His image, may today claim our worth and dignity as persons, made in love, for love.