“Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2 NABRE
In light of the cross and what Jesus accomplished with the cross and in one beautifully spoken sentence, Paul sums up the Gospel. How so? Well, the night before Christ handed Himself over He gave the disciples one last commandment, and it is truly beautiful. Jesus said,
“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.””
John 13:34-35 NABRE
My spiritual director and I recently spoke about the limitations of the English language, particularly when it comes to the word love. As you know, we use it in thousands of different ways and hope that it can convey the thousands of different complexities that we subject to it. Thankfully, some very wise, God-Seeking men and women, Saints even, came along through the centuries since God who is Love first spoke of Love and have given us more ways to consider the Greatest Commandment. For me, I think of St. Thomas Aquinas who said that to love is to will the good of the other.
Thomas says willing the good of the other, Paul says bear each other’s burdens, and Christ says Love one another as I have loved you. All speak to a standard of actionable demeanor that we are all held accountable to.
Often times, I fall very short of that standard. Probably, I fall short more than I meet it. When I do come before God for Judgement, I will clearly show Him that I produced more weed than I produced wheat. My Hope, though, is in Christ’s sacrifice, to discard those weeds and share in His Wheat.
By now, I know you are patiently waiting for me to get to my point. So, let’s get there.
My wife and I are pregnant. Yes!!!!!
This child will be our fourth; we have been very blessed with beautiful children who are all fairly close in age…five, four, one, and negative eight months. I know full well how hard pregnancy is on my wife – Three C-sections with a pending fourth. She shares with me her burdens as she progresses through the pregnancy. My problem is that I cannot fix them. Men are fixers, right? When we cannot fix something we get frustrated with ourselves and go through an internal monologue where we question our manhood. These burdens of my wife’s pregnancy must be born and passed through, without me being able to fix them or eliminate them. It’s a rite of passage, really; one which was given to woman back during The Fall…men will toil and women will bear children.
So, not only am I not able to fix my wife’s pregnancy strains, but God commands me to bear them with her, to Love her like Jesus. Truth be told, I don’t know how to do that. At least, I don’t think I do. And, sometimes, my default reaction is to ignore things that I cannot fix (NOT GOOD WHEN THAT UNFIXABLE THING IS YOUR WIFE’S PREGNANCY).
This is where I turn to God asking Him what am I to do to bear my wife’s burden? He responds, as He always does, by sending me to His Word. As is His way with me, He takes me exactly where I need to go.
Jesus washes His Disciples’ feet.
I think there are many beautiful layers to this actionable demeanor and disposition. There is the supplication of the Master to the Servant, the First placing Himself as Last, the act of cleansing what is filthy, the implied reference back to Baptism with the water, and later the statement made where you cannot emulate Christ unless He indeed washes your feet.
Lord, wash my feet, supplicate me to my wife’s needs and desires, give me the wisdom to anticipate her wishes, give me the heart of a servant, strengthen me against slothfulness. Grant me the Grace to bear my wife’s burdens as she treads down familiar road and carries the cross you have given her to bear and me to share. Most importantly Lord, grant us the Joy of bringing your child into this world and guiding him/her on the way in which he/she should go. We ask this in communion with the Holy Spirit and through Christ Jesus, who shows us the Way. Amen.
Cassie, I know I fall short of your needs often and frequently. I know that you are an amazing woman capable of some of the most beautiful acts of Love. Before the entire world, I lay myself down so that I might raise you up. I know that I will slip up on occasion as I seek to share in your burden. For this, I beg forgiveness. For this, I rely on Christ. I love you. Thank you for carrying this cross yet again. Together, let me yoke myself to you as we bring another child to the Altar of our God.