In God alone can we find happiness, joy, peace, fulfillment. Heaven is our goal; we should be yearning for heaven. We can’t wait to meet Jesus in person. Everything we do is directed toward that, so that Christ can console us, right? St. Therese of Lisieux believed otherwise.
“The thought of heavenly happiness not only doesn’t cause me one bit of joy,” she wrote in a letter to a seminarian. “It is only the thought of doing God’s Will that fills me with joy.”1 St. Therese did not think about what she would attain in heaven, about what comfort and peace she would discover. Instead, she was totally focused on God and on following the will of Christ. “It was not for Jesus to console her,” comments bishop Patrick Ahern. “It was for her to console Him, to love Him for His own sake and to persuade as many others as possible to offer Him the love for which He yearns.”2
Think of Christ’s last words on the cross: “I thirst” (John 19:28). He might have thirsted for water, but even more, He thirsted for our love. He endured suffering and death for our sake, so that we could come to love Him. He desires us and yearns for us; He opens his arms on the cross, awaiting us to come to Him.
And the Agony in Garden, the night before His Crucifixion (Luke 22:39-46), Christ asks the Father to "take this
cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done." I don't think Jesus was afraid of the Crucifixion, that He was having doubts about the task. Instead, He was thinking about how much pain it would cause us, whom He so deeply loved. We think about how much He suffered for our redemption, and we can easily feel guilty that He endured such torture for our sake. It pains the Lord that we feel such pain. He desires us, He yearns for us, He wants nothing but peace for us.
Part of the Christian life means trying to get to heaven for Christ to console us. But hopefully we can think about consoling Christ as well, about offering Him our lives and our love which He so deeply yearns for, and helping others to do the same, because He so deeply yearns for them as well.
The American St. Theodore Guerin asked, “What does it matter what becomes of us, provided God’s work be accomplished?”
1. Ahern, Patrick, Maurice & Therese: The Story of a Love (New York: Image Books: 1998): 165.
2. Ibid., 170.