Sometimes barrenness is the ultimate gift of Divine Mercy.
“Hannah, why do you weep, and why do you refuse to eat? Why do you grieve? Am I not more to you than ten sons?” 1Samuel 1:1-8
Hannah loved her husband Elkanah, but she could not bear him a son for she was 'barren.' More than anything in the world she desired, out of love, to bring him children. This weighed heavily on her soul and, to make matters worse, Elkanah had another wife, Peninnah, who bore Elkanah many children. Peninnah, moreover, mocked Hannah, which caused her further pain.
In what ways are we barren?
What do we desire more than anything in the world, yet are held back from? Are we unemployed/underemployed? Are our goals blocked by obstacles and/or failure? Is good health elusive? Are we lonely? Are we unforgiven in the eyes of a loved one?
Barrenness truly reveals our only trustworthy friend in Jesus Christ.
"How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD." Psalm 116:12-19
When we experience the aridity of life we tend to perceive it as a punishment from a silent, and cruel, God. I know, for I have thought this way. Yet, I was wrong. For the barren deserts are purely of this passing world. And the oasis, or at least the first drop of its fresh water, is the hope, however faint, of redemption, and life purpose, in a very real Savior.
Yet the very real Savior can be elusive if we choose to sit and die in the arid sands.
For Jesus Christ, in sacramental confession, in the Most Holy Eucharist, and in the Good News of the gospel, awaits us every day as an oasis in the barrenness of life's desert. Though people, and circumstances, may disappoint us in their dryness--when even our prayers become equally dry--the Living Water of Jesus Christ never dries up in the Sacraments, and the Gospel, which are never barren.
"After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God:
'This is the time of fulfillment.
The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the Gospel.'” Mark 1:14-20
Barrenness is an evil that God allows for a greater good. Sometimes the most unfortunate person is the man or woman filled with earthly delights--so full as to leave no room for God. And full of the world, they think 'why seek God?' But the barren, those of us deemed 'less fortunate' by worldly standards--if only we 'repent, and believe in the Gospel'--have a graced opportunity to become filled with Living Water amidst such dry desert conditions in this world's barren spiritual landscape.
Yet, the water isn't only for us! It is for those we lead through the desert, to the oasis of Mercy, in Jesus, in faith shared, hope employed, and charity exercised.
For jewels and toys and trinkets don't quench thirst. Only the Living Water of Jesus can do that. So, we must seek to fill the barrenness with Life saving water…and share what we can with others.
The Good News is that there is an oasis…if, only, we choose to open our eyes and trust that it is not a mirage. The Sacraments, and the Gospel, are our trust!