Sunday, December 1, 2013

Did the Jar Get Opened?

This was the burning question at our evening recreation at the end of Thanksgiving Day.  Earlier, while the Sisters had been busily occupied with that traditional feminine activity occurring after dinner called “doing the dishes”, Sister Joyce walked into the kitchen with a sealed jar of marmalade, asking if someone could help her open it.  This jar was a fancy affair, its top encircled with wire and supported by a rubber seal.  Several of us tried unsuccessfully to pry the lid off by hand.  Others offered advice.  Soon various tools appeared: two kinds of screwdrivers, several knives, can openers, even a crow bar.  Some Sisters remembered the neglected dishes and continued to wash and dry, but with one eye on the more interesting activity around the jar.  The postulants who were waiting to wash the dishtowels that were still being used, gathered at the door to watch.  Finally, it was observed that a little marmalade had seeped into the seal and perhaps this was the problem.  So far, all of our efforts had simply produced a crack in the stubborn lid, occasioning a worry that broken glass would make the contents inedible if we continued.  And so it was decided to put the jar into the always warm bake oven, hoping the marmalade would melt.  This done, we went our separate ways of prayer and work.

And so the question was asked:  “Did the jar get opened?”  Yes!  How?  Sister Pius took some pliers and pulled the rubber seal out!  Only our inventive Sister Pius would ever even think of doing it that way.

So much effort went into our opening of that jar of marmalade, yet it all cannot compare with what our God has had to do, in order to open our hardened human heart:  no less than the Incarnation and the Crucifixion of the Son of His only begotten Son!  Why do we keep ourselves so stubbornly closed to His love?  We have begun the blessed season of Advent, when we constantly cry out to our Lord, “Come!”  “O come, O come, Emmanuel!”  Yet, when He comes, do we open to Him?  At one point in our jar opening operation, one Sister remarked, “It’s sealed as tight as if it had poison in it!” Yes, or precious treasure!  These are the two things we seal away from all comers:  poison that may do harm or treasure that we might lose.  Are we afraid to let God into our hearts for fear He may discover our poisonous selves and reject us?  Or, at the other extreme, are we afraid He will take something precious from us and leave us bereft?  These fears have no basis when we are dealing with an all-knowing and all-loving God.  He made us, so He knows of what we are made and He knows that we are very good.  But He also made us for Himself, and as St. Augustine says, our hearts will ever be restless until they rest in Him.  We can only find our ultimate happiness when we give ourselves to Him.  And we are not left bereft, for in giving we receive more than we give away—infinitely more:  God Himself.


So, it will be a happy day when we can answer yes! to the question:  Did the heart get opened?  Come, Lord Jesus!

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