Column: We reap what good we have sown
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 13:09
We know from Scripture and from experience that the cross comes in two positions: it can be carried, as we all do each day on a personal level, and it can be mounted, as in the hour of death. In either configuration, the burden of the cross can be shared with others. Through prayer, we are allowed to advocate for ourselves and for each other. The communal voice, whether in song or in prayer, can be very loud. The community is able to support and promote an individual, regardless of that person’s spiritual disposition at the time. When you are physically or spiritually exhausted, the intentions of the group can still be broadcast on your behalf. The Creed gives us a name for this phenomenon: the communion of saints.
Prayer allows us to advocate for each other spiritually. Through some unknown spiritual medium (though I’m sure God uses physics), prayer allows us to talk to God, changing people, things and circumstances. The most common miracle is not the healing of your body but the change of your heart. It would be a great miracle if my cancer would disappear for many years, but it’s a greater miracle to receive the grace to walk the walk.
People need to know that their prayers are effective and that there are many forms of prayer. Our suffering has great spiritual value. Through some sort of spiritual symmetry, our suffering can be converted directly into prayer. All your hours of pain and torment can be turned directly into spiritual advocacy using only your intentions and will. In this way, a great reservoir of grace can be placed at your disposal. I have come to believe that when our hearts are rent and broken, during our gravest desperation of tears, at that gasping moment, we are talking directly to God in His own language. In this prayer- form, it is possible to accomplish
many hours of prayer in a single breath.
During the journey of care, the people around you are very important. Sometimes, you’ll find Jesus in the seat beside you. At those times you can expect compassion, comfort and peace. In fact, there are many encounters with Christ, most often in the form of His other children. The grace and generosity of people in my life has been overwhelming. People have opened up their homes and their pantries, have given their time and energy to provide for me and my family in our neediest hours. I have found that it is possible to encounter messenger angels who own very little but possess the information you’ve been praying for and will offer it up gratuitously.
I’ve had many active encounters with Christ in the faces and hands of people you would never expect. I know now to always be open to those real life encounters. It’s one of the ways He’s made me aware of His love for me. He’s made His presence real for me.
Today is a beautiful day. I know that at any time, the phone can ring with another cross. The
fact that I have an active prayer battalion working very hard for me is proof that there is some sort of strength in numbers and for the spiritual effectiveness of the community.
It didn’t seem fair that the strength in numbers approach was right. It looked to me like the distribution of grace shouldn’t be reduced to a popularity contest. The question bothered me until a very close friend finally said to me, “Man, you’re just reaping what you’ve sown.” It takes a true brother, and a lot of humility all around to have a conversation like that. All I could do is smile as my heart rent, with tears in my eyes, and at that moment I realized that God knew exactly how grateful I am.
Harold Baquet is a university photophgapher and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
On The Record is a weekly column open to any member of Loyola’s faculty and staff. Those interested in contributing can contact email@example.com