Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sometime Love Hurts

Love is of many kinds: the sweet kind we all are familiar with and often sing its praises, but also, according to the columnist of the "View from the Ark, the kind that hurts but makes us grow.

He came to this conclusion back in 1987 when, as one of two seminarians, he was assigned to a country mission station that ministered to 70 Catholic families. They were mostly farmers, some well-off, but most were living a life of poverty. The area was part of the country that was not helped much by the development taking place in Korea.The village was mostly Catholic but the relationship with the other villagers was very warm. The pastor  told the two seminarians that they would be learning a lot from their time spent with the Christians.

The children especially were very open to the seminarians. He tells us that the older seminarian was much better looking than he was and the girls showed this in the way they reacted with him. This left the columnist sad but he kept this to himself. Three attractive girls everyone called the three musketeers would come to visit them often in their place of residence. They were like any third year middle school student, boisterous and talkative. He especially remembered a girl named Helena, and wonders what she would be doing now. When she came to the chapel, she would sit in the back without a word, and then leave.

The day before the seminarians were to leave, they said goodbye to all the parishioners, including the three musketeers, who were there all day, chattering at their side. Next day the catechist prepared a farewell meal for the departing seminarians. That evening, when they were about to go out to eat, the columnist saw Helena walking back and forth outside the mission station. He approached her and told her to be good and tapped her on the shoulder; she yelled out that she didn't want to be good, she loved him. He was flabbergasted. When it came time to leave, Helena was not there.

Now reminiscing on this long-ago incident, the columnist reminds himself that love is not always sweet. At times it's sharp and piercing, and it hurts. But it's this kind of love, he says, that helps us grow.

He finishes the column with the words of Simeon to Mary, "This child is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed, and you yourself shall be pierced with a sword so that the thought of many hearts may be laid bare."

God's love for us in Jesus was the love that hurt, similar to  the love of parents for the child who continues to cause trouble. Love also is the effort to return to a harmonious relationship when this has broken down. The Blessed Mother, with the pain that came from much in her life, exemplified the graces from this kind of love. Similarly, the piercing of our hearts is often the sign of God's grace.

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