“Get rid of whatever He shows you to be an obstacle to His love, for His only desire is that you should live stripped of all that is not Himself.” (Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque).
Many years ago, one of my little nieces was visiting us, and over the course of an afternoon playing with my children in the backyard, she got a splinter caught in her finger.
Now this niece was very young at the time, and it was her very first splinter, and she was very scared and worried about the whole thing. Nevertheless, her mother quickly grabbed a tweezers and got to work on removing that little splinter.
There was only one problem with the whole operation and that was that my little niece did not like the feeling of a tweezer poking around in her finger and being unfamiliar with this discomfort she screamed and cried loudly throughout the entire exercise. Trying to calm her down, my children – who are older than she is – danced and sang and cheered for her throughout the entire operation until at last the splinter was safely removed and thrown away.
I was remembering that story the other day as I was removing a splinter from my own daughter’s finger. You see, my daughter – unlike her braver brothers – really really hates to stand still while someone is trying to remove a splinter from her finger.
And as I was finishing up the operation on my daughter – and fondly remembering her rather hysterical cousin – it occurred to me that the process of removing a splinter is really no different from the process of growing in faith. You see, splinters could represent all the little distractions in our lives...
Some of these are relatively harmless distractions, like those of Martha who was so busy running around to accommodate the guests that she forgets that God Himself sat in her home.
“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:40-42).
And other distractions are more terrible and these are the distractions of sin – the distractions of the Evil One.
But regardless of the distraction, we have God – for the LAMB of God Takes away the Sins of the World… Just as my sister and I take away the splinters from the fingers of little girls.
The only difference is that when I remove a splinter from my daughter’s finger, it hurts her while I am removing it… But when Christ forgives our sins there is NO pain – for HE suffered on the Cross for those sins so that WE would not have to suffer when He forgave us. He bore the pain of that removal on the Cross and bears it – ad infinitum – in every Sacrament of the Mass for us, for love of us…
And while we may become afraid because of the distractions in our lives, which cause us to turn our eyes away from God and His infinite love – as my daughter and my little niece were afraid at the feeling of the tweezers – God gives us help to keep going. Just as my children sang and danced and cheered for their little cousin to give her strength, the Communion of Saints prays for us to give us strength.
For God wishes to help us to cast off our sins and follow Him. Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque said, “Get rid of whatever He shows you to be an obstacle to His love, for His only desire is that you should live stripped of all that is not Himself.”
For just as the splinter was stripped out of those little girls’ fingers, so too would I have the sins stripped out of my worthless little soul – no matter the cost… No matter the cost…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.