Life Is Bigger

Life is full of lessons to be learnt. We just need eyes to see, ears to listen and a heart to understand. There are always more dimensions than what is apparently perceptible.

At one high mass, a cardinal sat high on a throne surrounded by a number of bishops. When the cardinal rose to administer communion, a disabled man slipped up into the sanctuary, sat himself in the cardinal’s seat and gazed around him as if he wanted to know how one feels sitting on that exalted chair! Obviously, the Bishops around the altar were somewhat nervous. No one knew how to act. Ignore the situation? Invite the person to go back to the pews? Force the issue? In the end nobody did anything and the man remained seated happily looking around.

When the cardinal finished giving communion, he did the most sensible thing. He took up a stool, placed it next to the throne, sat down and chatted amiably with the person with disabilities. It was quite a sight.

“The cardinal sitting in the stool and the disabled person looking down at him from the throne, the cardinal’s humility was very beautiful, and the disabled person had given him the opportunity to show that for all his importance, he too still had the heart of a child.”

Life is always bigger than what we think. A great preacher of old, Hinson, spoke of his own experience when he wrote. “I remember a year ago when a doctor told me, ‘You have an illness from which you won’t recover.’ I walked out to where I live five miles from Portland, Oregon and I looked across at that mountain that I love. I looked at the river in which I rejoice, and I looked at the stately trees that are always God’s own poetry to my soul. Then in the evening I looked up into the great sky where God was lighting his lamps and I said, ‘I may not see you many more times, but Mountain, I shall be alive when you are gone; and River, I shall be alive when you cease running towards the sea; and Stars, I shall be alive when you have fallen from your sockets in the great down pulling of the material universe.” Yes, life is always one step ahead.

The problem is that we always want it different- when it is hot, we want it cold, when it is cold, we want it hot. Mark Twain, the great US writer, once wrote, “Most people are bothered by those passages in Scriptures that they cannot understand, but as for me, I always notice that the passages in Scripture which trouble me most are those which I understand.”

Resurrected? Yes. Crucified? No. Salvation? Yes. Repentance? No. Love? Yes. Surrendering? No. But life always comes in this paradox. The rose comes with the thorns. The pains come with the birth. The best of times can only be lived because there are those times that are so bad.

A missionary in Brazil visited a market town and saw a sign in a store advertising “Cheap crosses for sale”. They were selling fast! The hitch is that we may like cheap crosses – no sacrifices, no cost, no pain – but these crosses will never lead us to a life full of resurrection!


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.