Updated: Dec 29, 2020
If we can act as true Christians, we are missionaries of God.
I was speaking with a beautiful priest the other day, and he told me that the vocation of marriage is to express our love for God through our love for our spouse.
At first, I laughed – most of the married women know would agree that their husbands often try the patience of a saint!
But upon reflection – I guess – sanctification is the point.
The love between the married couple as an expression of God’s Holy Love for us, is a vocation, a mission, and a sacrifice.
The Hollywood version of marriage as being filled with happiness misses the fundamental basis of the sacrament. Marriage – a true Christian marriage – has little to do with happiness and everything to do with Joy!
Happiness, though a selfish, fleeting and superficial thing that comes and goes with the moments, litters every marriage (good and bad). But Joy – deep, spiritual Joy – is the reward for our ultimate surrender. In surrendering ourselves to God (and to our spouse through our vocation of marriage) we make a terrible blessed small and mundane sacrifice, which through Grace can bring magnificent Joy.
And Joy, unlike happiness, can be experienced even in the very depths of grief and sadness. Because Joy comes through the Grace received of surrender.
Marriage – which is a lifetime of compromise and sacrifice and self-giving – is filled with sadness and hurt. How many wives could honestly say that their partner has never broken their heart? How many husbands could say the same?
And yet, marriage requires us to humble ourselves to our partner and seek forgiveness; and for our partner to choose to forgive us… over and over and over and over again – even knowing that they will fail and repeat their mistakes time and again.
In this way, Christian marriage is a true vocation, because it requires us to imitate God’s infinite Love and Mercy and Forgiveness through our behaviours to our spouse.
Saint Josemaria Escriva said, “The road to Heaven is paved with your husband’s name.”
I believe he was right! This road is rocky, and yet, there is such Joy to be had in this dance to Calvary!
Previously, I thought that the word missionary was synonymous with extremes.
I have imagined faraway places full of adventure and poverty, with Christians embracing extremes to bring others to God through clever rhetoric and openly brave self-sacrifice.
Those missionaries are so far away from me.
And yet I wonder if they are?...
I am a missionary. So are you.
Our actions – our behaviours – have great power to do great good with the Grace of God!
If we chose to live our lives as a conscious example of virtue and Grace to others, then we ourselves become missionaries of Christ. We do not need to live an extreme life – our simple family home is a place for adventure and sadly often poverty of spirit that we ourselves must address.
There is no need for us to use clever rhetoric or boastful brave self-sacrifice. Within the family, small, relentless sacrifices wear blisters into our souls that require great courage to bear – and yet, like the blistered foot inside a shoe, often it is only the wearer that knows it is there.
This smallness requires courage too – for like God’s love for us – it never ends and the blisters rub painfully, though not fatally, inside our souls for all our Earthly lives.
For people who we encounter in our small lives, we might be their only exposure to Christ’s words. We might be their Bible passage that day – and we may not even be aware of it!
Our actions and our life of virtue may be the example required to enlighten the world – in service of He who came not to be served but to serve.
Surely, if we live our lives well, others will see – even if we never realise it.
Surely then, even if we are all fragile, useless little glass vacuums plugged into the ceiling of a room – alone, completely powerless to move or do – surely, through the Grace of God – we will be able to illuminate the world – as we ourselves become consumed with Grace!
Then, surely, others will see that fire within us and they too will catch alight, and the Truth and the Word will spread...
And surely God will be pleased.
Because that is the only thing that really matters after all – God – not a few little blisters inside an old shoe.
For through prayer, everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.