Tag Archives: comfort

Comfort for those who labor

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Wednesday’s Advent Gospel (Mt 11: 28-30) is so beautiful and comforting. No wonder it is specially beloved and quoted by so many of His people. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

     I am trying so hard to talk less and to listen more, for God’s voice, during my prayer. It is not easy. But reading these Gospel sentences from Jesus always makes me feel as if He is personally talking to me with all His tenderness and love.

     One of the blessings of retired life is that my wife and I can go for an early dinner at 5:00 p.m. on a weekday. Last Thursday, while looking out the picture window of the diner, I could see row upon row of slow-moving headlights on Northern Blvd. and the Clearview Expressway in Queens, NY: so many people sitting through the heavy traffic in their cars in the falling darkness after a long day at work. I spent so much of my life like that, like so many others “who labor and are burdened”, longing for a few hours of rest at home. Back then I did not realize that the place of rest was right there within my heart, where the Love of Jesus was always waiting patiently for my conversion.

     Now, years later, when I rest and rejoice in His Love, I have also learned from Him a thing or two. His Love makes His yoke easy and His burden light, but it is still a yoke and a burden. He calls us to share, and relieve, the burdens of so many of our brethren, His brothers and sisters.   

     In the November 26th issue of The Brooklyn Tablet, Fr. Robert Lauder writes:

      ” While many of us may be able to wax eloquently about how beautiful love is, we may need to remind ourselves that in our lives the call to love God and neighbor can be demanding. Dorothy Day, who spent her life loving and serving the poor often referred to an insight from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel,

‘The Brothers Karamasov’. The insight is that in reality, love can be a harsh and dreadful thing. Love can call us to make great sacrifices. Though we benefit from loving, that does not necessarily make loving easy.”

     I pray that the people in those cars realize what an important part love has in the sacrifices and struggles that they undergo in their work-lives. I pray that within their personal loves they discover, some time, somehow, the One who loves them beyond comprehension, the Source of everything that is worthwhile and good in their lives, the One who at the end of the road waits for them with open arms to give them true rest.

Orlando Hernandez

A Cross in Haiti

Like so many, I’m following developments in Haiti these last few days, especially the activities of Father Rick Frechette, CP, a member of my community, the Passionists. He’s a medical doctor in charge of a free pediatric hospital, St Damien’s, outside Port-au-Prince, which is still functioning in make-shift conditions after the horrendous earthquake. You can read about him, and donate to his mission, if you wish, here. Major networks, like NBC and ABC, have been covering his story and the hospital where he ministers.

The world is responding to this poorest of countries with sympathy and help. How could it not? An earthquake is such an unexpected tragedy, and this one struck a poverty-stricken land crowded with human beings living in brittle homes that crumbled and crushed thousands of men, women and children.

We ask “Why?” Is the natural world cruel as it is kind? Is its Creator uncaring or distant from all of this, or not there at all?

Faith doesn’t answer our questions, but instead invites us to look at the mystery of the Cross of Jesus as God’s wisdom for times like this. One picture from Haiti yesterday showed a crucifix in the midst of the destruction. A reminder to see Haiti’s  suffering and death with this mystery in mind.

The mystery of the Passion of Christ doesn’t give answers, but it gives comfort and hope. That’s what the great English mystic, Julian of Norwich, says it brings:

“The passion of Christ is a comfort for us. He comforts us readily and kindly and says:All will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.”

Teresa of Avila sees this mystery in the same way.  When Jesus says “Come to me all you who find life burdensome and I will refresh you” he is inviting us to find refreshment in his Passion, she says.

When faced with the mystery of suffering and death, go to the Cross of Jesus, she tells us, and look up into his face. “And he will  forget his own sorrow, turning his face to relieve yours.” He will be our comfort, our refreshment.

Certainly, this is a time to reach out and extend our help in material aid to the poor people of Haiti. But let’s not forget to pray for them, to stand before Cross of Jesus and look into his face, to ask him to see, not us, but them, to care for them, to comfort them, to give them hope.

In many ways Haiti has been a forgotten place in our world. Will this terrible event help us remember this land and its people? The Cross of Jesus is a mystery that brings humanity closer.

“The nearer we come to the cross, the nearer we come to one another.”