Heart crowned with thorns
That Father gave birth to his children. He loves each of them with all his heart. They are more precious than his own life. He watches every step they take with care, guidance and consolation. In his heart, each of them has a unique place.
This afternoon, another book about the life of his beloved children is sent to him. Previously, whenever he received such a book, he was so glad that he couldn’t do anything else than sat right down and read it immediately over and over again with passion. He was very proud and happy. Each page contained a memory that he held dear in his heart. He now excitedly sits down on the bench in front of the house to contemplate his children’s life. But this time…
He opens the book. He is smile. “O my babies. Let me enjoy you now!”
He turns to the first page. A frown suddenly appears on his face. It shows the scene in which a successful son looks down on his younger brother, ignoring his difficult situation. The smile on the Father’s face disappears immediately.
He turns to the second page. A daughter of his is jealous with her sister because she does not have what the latter enjoys. She is not wise enough to bless her sister but slanders behind her back. Hmmm…
The third page presents a scene where his other children are quarrelling with one another about their Father. This one says the Father is like this. Another says he is like that. Still the others hold a different opinion. They don’t accept one another’s diverse points of view. They produce harsh criticisms, damage one another’s reputation, torture one another, terminate their mutual communication,… in his name. They believe that they are right and that they are protecting his honor.
The Father’s heart is filled with sadness. He turns to the fourth page, hoping to see something brighter.
It shows the sun is shining from above. A sign of optimism sparkles his eyes. Light is streaming down the earth. Exciting! As he looks more closely, however, there seems to be something blackish under the sun. He looks further down. It turns out to be dust and smoke from the environmental pollution caused by some children of his for their selfish interest. There are dark currents of chemical water pouring into the source of water that his other poor children drink.
The Father sighs with sorrow. He does teach his children to think about their other brothers and sisters whenever they do something. But…
Turning the next page, he feels quite embarrassed when seeing a daughter cursing him. She blames him for her trouble while obviously he can’t be responsible for that. It is she who creates bad consequences for herself or her suffering is caused by other brothers and sisters.
The Father does not know how he should feel.
Turning another page, he sees a scene of a hurt son. In the journey on this earth, conflicts and crashes do happen. To gain peace, one must know how to solve problems. He has taught his children that forgiveness is an excellent way to do that. But this son is refusing to use that power of forgiveness his Father has placed inside him. He also forgets his Father’s forgiveness for him. The Father feels a serious heartache when seeing his son imprisoning himself in his manner. His ability to sympathize and love sinners is still very weak. O how he desires to see reconciliation between his children so peace may reign in their souls!
The Father turns another page. A son of his is looking down with his terrible sense of guilt. He feels regretful, blaming himself for his sin. He is stuck in the thought that he is an unworthy child. He made a promise and then broke it, over and over again. His concentration on his guilt too much makes him forget a much more important truth: the boundless love of the Father for him. The Father is looking at him, gently saying: “My son, please raise high your head, look into my merciful eyes that are looking at you right now. Do not be afraid of them because they will warm your heart again, driving away the temptation which wants you to doubt my love for you that is greater than everything. My beloved child, I want to hold you tight. In any case, do not get scared of my love, please! I never curse or punish you. I only love you and desire to see you truly happy!” But that son does not believe the Father’s affirmative words. He keeps focusing on his past and let the sense of guilt chain him. Of course, Satan takes this occasion to drag down his already weak spirit.
The Father’s heart is now soaked in sadness. But he is still hopeful. His tired hand turns another page. Hope. Yes, one has to hope always. He takes a deep breath to put himself together.
He turns a page.
Oh dear, what is going on? There are some children abusing and exploiting one another. They make money from the sweat and tears of their brothers and sisters. Some others are very cruel to consider their sisters’ body an object or item for their business or entertainment. Every child of his has the same dignity. How can they ever dare to treat their brothers and sisters like that?
His eyes are blurred by tears. He is panting. At this point, the Father does feel exhausted from sadness. But he tries to use his little strength left to dare open another page with hope to see something different.
His fingers weakly turn a page.
He startles. Oh dear, my beloved children! How can this ever happen? The old Father cannot believe what he sees. He rubs his eyes several times thinking that he didn’t see it right. A heart-breaking scene! He doesn’t dare to even look at it. They are killing each other. Having the same life and the same blood of the same Father, how can they call each other enemies? How can they ever do harm to their brothers and sisters who also have families, feelings and hearts just like them? Not enough, they form groups, armies to mass kill one another. It’s their brothers and sisters that they kill, how can they then celebrate their victory. Victory of what? O pain! O sorrow! His tears burst out like an uncontrollable stream. His whole body trembles. His heart squeezes tight as if it was going be exploding. O my children, my children! He is choking so hard that even a weakest breath becomes impossible.
The burning sunlight shines on the front steps of the house and touches the Father’s skinny feet that have been carrying the burdens of his children. It does not know these are the feet of the Father who is exhaustedly embracing their lives. Pain is not a sufficient word to describe his feeling anymore.
My beloved children, this Father of yours has only one desire: You love one another as I love you. (John 13:34; 15:12)
Joseph Viet, O.Carm.