Of myself I am nothing – but God, the LIVING God – does ALL things for me.
The other day, my eldest son came to me asking for a new pair of socks because his old socks were too small for his growing feet… That would not normally be a big deal. After all healthy children grow and pre-teen boys grow rapidly – thank God. But when he showed me the problem with his socks, we were still stuck in the latest lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and I was quite literally unable to get him new socks in an appropriately fast timeframe.
And so, I did what any enterprising mother would do – I went through my own sock drawer and pulled out a few pairs of my own unisex socks for him to wear, and on life went. And there he was – wearing my socks on his feet for the last few weeks of lockdown until I could get him a new set of socks and a new wardrobe while I was at it when we could finally get into a shop…
I have been thinking about that child and his socks over the last few weeks. You see, my son was once so tiny that I could fit all of him inside two of my hands, and I would still have room to spare. And now – God bless him – he is larger than I am!
And that makes me think of his physical growth as I am thinking of my spiritual growth.
You see, God too holds us in the Palm of His hand – and not just physically, but spiritually too. And He too watches us grow. Just as I feed my children and care for them, God too, feeds us through Grace and cares for us as our loving Father.
And just as my son accepted the food that I fed him so that he would grow bigger and just as my son participated in the activities that I provided for him so that he would grow stronger, so too must I accept the Grace and the Sufferings that God provides to me so that I too can grow. And while my son’s growth was physical, my growth is spiritual – for God wishes for me to grow stronger in faith so that my soul can be pleasing to the Lord!
And we need food to grow. But we have to be careful about how we feed children. Too little food and the child will die and too much and they can become very sick through obesity and other comorbidities.
When I first started feeding my son solids when he was a little baby and only a few months old, I started with a single teaspoon of food once a day. Slowly – over time – I increased the amounts that I fed him. Lately – God bless Him – he has been eating just as much as his father eats. This is a good thing! When he was three months old there is no way that I could have fed him that quantity of food – his stomach was too small, and it would have made him very seriously sick to try to feed him food like that... But now that he has grown and is continuing to grow, I am able to feed him so much more and he is able to grow so much stronger.
There is not a lot of difference between this physical capacity for food and the spiritual capacity for Grace. You see, we earn Grace through suffering, but suffering is something that we need time to become accustomed to and time to grow used to.
Our Blessed Mother and Christ Himself used to appear to Saint Faustina to warn her of her impending suffering prior to times of suffering in her life. They did this so that they could prepare her for the suffering that she would soon endure. And when the Saint heard these warnings, she would immediately begin to prepare herself for all the future sufferings that she would endure by strengthening her spiritual endurance through sacrifice…
This is like the way that a human builds up a tolerance for food. We start off with really small things when we are infants – like a teaspoon of solid food or a small act of penance. And it is the stamina that we build in dealing with the small things that prepares us for the larger problems that we will endure in our Earthly lives… And this stamina, which we call FORTITUDE, is a GIFT of the Holy Spirit.
Saint Padre Pio gave very good advice. He said… “Live a quiet life. Cast out of your imagination whatever could dismay you, and tell Our Lord often, ‘Oh God, You are my God, and I trust in You; You will help me and be my refuge; I will fear nothing.’ Not only are you with Him, but you are in Him and He is in you. What can a child in the arms of such a Father fear? Be like a little child. Children do not ever think about their future, because they have someone else to think about it for them. They are fearless only when they are with their father. Do the same thing here, and be at peace.”
And so – as I marvel at the growth of my son – I humbly acknowledge the work of God in me through the GIFTS of the Holy Spirit. For of myself I am nothing – but God, the LIVING God – does ALL things for me.
And I see this and I feel it through my growth – however humble it may be…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.