• Sarah Raad


What merits suffering can buy! What eternal merits!

Entombment (Moretto da Brescia)

When I was a little girl, I was a very fussy eater and did not like to try new things. One day, my late Aunt Josephine – may God rest her soul – taught me how to eat a mango. She cut it up and turned it out and when it looked like a beautiful yellow-diamond jewel, she said to me, “Taste it, Sarah. It’s delicious.”

Every year – after that first taste – as soon as I felt the warm start of the summer months, I would wait for the mangoes to become available in the shops so that my mother could buy them for me to eat. Back in those days when I was a little girl, we never saw fruit if it was out of season. And so, mangoes were on the shelves at the time when they were ripe and delicious and – for the most part – affordable.

Things were very different for my youngest brother. You see, I am not the only person who likes mangoes! My youngest brother – who is 16 years younger than I am – loved them when he was a little baby. But the world was a different place back in those days. When he was little and even now, fruit is on the shelves even if it is not in season – it just costs an awful lot more. I remember my mother explaining to my little brother that she could not buy him a mango because they cost $10 per mango, and as it was wintertime he would have to wait for the summer for the mango season to start.

For the most part, my youngest brother was a good little boy. He did not cause too much drama over the absence of mangoes from his diet – but he did anticipate them greatly. In fact, I would have to say that seeing mangoes around in the shops during the wrong season only served to focus his attention (and mine) on the delicious treat, causing us to anticipate the delicious treat more enthusiastically as time wore on.

I have been thinking about mangoes over the last few weeks of winter. After all – I still love them and they still remind me of my late Aunt Josephine – who also taught me to eat salad sandwiches, canned beetroot, pickles, avocado and cups of milky white and far too sweet tea…

Because mangoes are very similar to other things. Mangoes remind me of the fruits of Heaven…

We live our Earthly lives by seasons. When we are young, it is like the spiritual wintertime for us, because we feel far from death and so we focus very little on what is to come afterwards. In other words, when we are young and healthy, we focus very little – for the most part – on preparing for the Summer of Salvation. After all, if we are healthy, we rarely think about dying and death and what comes next and so, for the most part, and by not thinking about it, we can avoid preparing for it…

It is a bit like when I was a little girl and mangoes were not on the shelves in the wintertime. When I could not see the mangoes in the shops, I often forgot about them until they popped up during the summer months. But as I grew older, and when mangoes were on the shelves during the wrong season, my youngest brother and I could very easily start to anticipate the deliciousness of the mangoes and we craved them constantly – especially whenever we saw them.

This craving is what happens to us through Grace. But it is important to recognise how Grace is sent to us in this life. After all, it is often disguised to our mortal eyes. For in this life, we most often receive Grace when we suffer. In fact, though we often lament the suffering of the young, they are truly the chosen few because despite often being relatively far from death, their experience of pain can focus them on the true rewards of life – on the Heavenly fruits we can reap through our suffering for salvation!

And what merit there is in that!

For after all, what greater focus could there ever be in my mind than the reminder that this too shall pass and one day and that I – through the Grace of God – shall experience the sweetness of salvation, like a summertime taste of mango, only it will be SWEETER and will last FOREVER!

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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