By Sara Kohl
The first reading today is one that I hear so often, that I often associate it with memories rather than actually receiving the words in my current reality.
For example, when I was in the third grade I was given the task of reading today’s first reading at Sunday Mass. Even as a 10-year-old, I recognized the significance and boldness of St. Paul’s words and was proud to read them to the community, even if I was embarrassed to read that I now “became a man.”
Ten years later, when serving with a Catholic ministry, I stayed with a woman who shared with me that when dating at my age, she always looked for a man whose name could replace “love” in the verses. She told me of “Brian” being patient, and “Brian” being kind. As a 20-year-old, I found her words so romantic and hopeful, and reinforced the idea in me that this reading is simply meant to teach us how to love others.
But is it? When I compare myself to the woman standing next to me in the Trader Joe’s checkout line, is it not the Lord who is patient with me? When I put my trust and hope in worldly things, or even expect to be completely satisfied by other people, like my friends and family, is it not the Lord who endures the rejection, loving me all the same?
As I unpacked for college for a final time this year, I came across a letter I wrote myself a few years back after an encounter where my pride had been humiliated and I realized I was completely placing my worth in my self-image. In the letter I wrote ways that I could change this, writing, “I must actively look for the good in myself and others; not becoming distraught in moments of pain and sorrow, but being attentive to the stirrings of my heart, loving others freely, and I must be patient with myself.”
When I had finished reading, my eyes swelled, remembering the original source of these hopes, the process of implementing them, and the continuing journey I had of asking for the grace each day to uphold them.
Looking at this experience from within the words of St. Paul in today’s reading I realized, if I wasn’t patient with myself, how could I expect to be patient with others? If I didn’t see the worth and dignity the Lord has given me, how would I be able to recognize him in others?
When I originally wrote that letter, it was for a yearning to “rejoice over truth”. I had met the Truth, received the Truth, trusted in the Truth, and yet I still did not believe it. As Paul warned, “If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.” I couldn’t fully give my love to Him and those around me if I did not first receive His love for me and see Him in myself.
Sisters, as we encounter Him anew today, let us ask for the grace to be patient with ourselves on the journey, and to see ourselves as he sees us: Blessed children, whom He has chosen to be His own. Rest with me in that truth.
About the author:
Sara Kohl is a Senior in college from Minnesota where she finds peace and joy in the mundane, such as morning runs, Monday night football, and using all the groceries in the refrigerator. A lover of photography and letter writing, Sara strives to live fully through imitating the virtues of the Blessed Mother in each relationship and in every task; like we said, she’s striving!
Photo courtesy of Sara Kohl. Used with permission. All rights reserved.