“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” (C.S. Lewis).
The other day I was visiting my mother and father on a Saturday morning and my mother needed some bread for lunch. As my mother was busy cooking, I offered to drive down the street to buy the bread that she needed. There was only one problem that day, and that was that I had walked across to my parents’ home and had not brought my car. So, my mother very kindly offered to lend me her car to drive to collect what we needed for lunch.
There was nothing particularly extraordinary in this offering. After all, I have quite often driven my mother’s car over the years – I even learned to drive in her car many decades ago…
But I am not a terribly good driver. Though I have been driving since I was legally able, I drive for convenience, not for pleasure, and so to drive someone else’s car, makes me a little nervous – even if that someone else is my mother. This is because while I have had a lot of practise driving (and more importantly – parking) my own car, having much less frequently driven my mother’s car, I am much less good at driving and parking it.
And I have been reflecting on this observation in the weeks since driving that car because it reminds me of my lack of practice in a life of Christian virtue.
You see, to be a Christian – a true Christian, a true follower of Christ – we have a very clear directive provided by Christ Himself…
“Then Jesus told His disciples, ‘If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me…’” (Matthew 16:24).
And a directive such as this sounds like utter and complete madness! After all, who would ever voluntarily pick up a cross – physical, spiritual, emotional, social or otherwise? Who would ever invite suffering and sacrifice into their lives? When a child is born, do we look at the child and say, well, I hope they get a very very big cross in this life?
And yet, we are clearly told by Christ to do just that. We are told to pick up our cross and follow Him – because without our cross we cannot follow.
When I was a very little girl, I heard a homily by an old priest during one Sunday mass. During the homily, the priest said, “Have you ever wondered at the submission of Our Blessed Mother in consenting to receive the Son of God into Her womb? After all, it would have surely been less heartbreaking for Her to just have an ordinary child instead who nobody knew about and who could live a long happy and peaceful life.”
And that priest had a point… After all, it was a Cross to be the Mother of God – for it caused great suffering…
You see, just as driving an unfamiliar car makes me nervous, and just as driving an unfamiliar car causes me to be less efficient with driving and parking and manoeuvring the car, so too does living a virtuous like cause me to be less efficient because I am simply less used to acting in a virtuous way.
But it is necessary to feel this discomfort because it is for our GOOD – that suffering, that CROSS – is for our GOOD…
The Christian writer, C.S. Lewis wrote, “Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”
And that is sort of like my driving that car the other day… You see without that discomfort of the drive I would not have had any bread for lunch… And without the discomfort of the Cross I shall not be saved.
So, I had better keep up my practise, so that I can grow in Christian virtue – because without virtue, nothing means anything at all… It simply all means nothing…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.