Arrr! Ahoy there, Mates! This is Captain Tom of the good ship Cataract reporting on the condition of First Mate Elizabeth. Ship’s doctor reports the cataract surgery was successful and the second eye is scheduled in a couple of weeks.
There was one major disappointment, though. We had hoped that the First Mate would be sporting a very proper eye patch after surgery, worthy of any pirate. We might even have gotten her a parrot. But the eye covering she got was sort of a rounded cup full of holes and looks for all the world like a giant insect eye. Nothing pirate here.
When she wore it, it sort of reminded me of an episode of Star Trek that had a transporter “malfunction.” A fly got in with the person being transported and the result on the other end was a mixture of fly and human. Fortunately for the First Mate, her fly eye can be removed.
This got me thinking that maybe the good ship Cataract is not a sailing ship but is really a star ship like the Enterprise in Star Trek. Beam us up, Scotty! Or should that be Jesus?
Now let’s give that Devil a real broadside – either cannons or phasers – by continuing to become everything God wants us to be.
More on the First Mate later.
Helping Jesus Age
No one likes the idea of suffering, especially if you are the one doing it. We all have had someone in our younger lives tell us to “just offer it up” when we had a ding or scrape, especially if there wasn’t a lot of blood. While that may not have seemed very helpful at the time, it really did contain some great spiritual truths.
Scripture and Catholic teaching offer a perspective on suffering that can give great meaning and value to what otherwise could seem a curse to be avoided at all cost. This comes when the things we suffer are united to the suffering of Christ. Something mystical happens.
By uniting our own personal sufferings to those of Christ we can see our suffering as a sharing in the life of Christ. When we do, great benefits result for ourselves and for others.
Some examples from Scripture (from the NIV):
1 Peter 4:13
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed
2 Corinthians 1:5
For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
Now I (Paul) rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.
Regarding the last scripture, we might ask in just what areas of suffering was Jesus lacking? Lacking, as Paul says, for the sake of the Church that we could add to or complete? Didn’t He do it all during His life and on the cross where He gained our salvation? Well, He didn’t do “everything.” For one, Jesus never got old.
As a human, He experienced infancy, childhood, adolescence, and finally, adulthood. He had the human grief of losing friends and loved ones. But He died in the prime of life. He was familiar with “senior citizens” but he never was one Himself.
He never got old like we do. He didn’t experience the gradual decline of physical and mental abilities that we do as we age. He never got arthritis, He never entered a room and had to stop to remember why He was there. He never lost His keys or glasses or had cataracts. He never needed joint replacements or false teeth. And the list goes on and on.
I saw a message on a tee shirt once: “With age comes oldness.” Perhaps this “oldness” that we will all experience is a great area of “suffering” that can be united to the sufferings of Christ to fill in what is lacking, as the Scriptures say. Sufferings He could not have personally experienced but we do. Something we can prayerfully offer to Him to complete what He could not do Himself, and so gain immeasurable graces for others in the Church and for ourselves and family as well.
So the next time you get out of bed and suddenly feel a twinge in the back or a creak somewhere else, or are on the way to another doctor’s appointment, or are setting out the meds for the day, just pause, and think of how you are getting old in the place of Jesus. He never had the chance. Then again, He didn’t have to because He knew you would be doing it for Him.
But it’s still ok to reach for the Excedrin.