When was the last time that you felt totally and completely empty? Maybe it was when you received a bad diagnosis about a friend or family member. It might have been during a move, or while attending a new school, or while heading off to college. There is a certain discomfort in being empty, but there is also something very beautiful in knowing you can be filled again.
The Christian beauty of being empty is found in the longing that we have to be filled. It is in the empty places of our hearts and souls that we are drawn towards Christ. Without these times of emptiness, we may never feel the peace of Christ. St. Augustine expresses this desire when he said, “our hearts are restless, until they rest in you”. Until we embrace what our soul is truly longing for, the love of a God who cares for us, we will always be empty.
When our lives are overflowing with blessings, we sometimes forget the need for faith in things that we might not see. We are happy with what is in front of us and don’t feel really empty. We can never truly be full until we have embraced Christ and can comfortably call him our friend.
Jesus recognized this when he took on the emptiness of the cross. In her book, Total Surrender, Mother Teresa explained how Christ was empty in every possible way while He suffered on the cross. He emptied Himself completely, while still being God, so that He could show how much He loved His children. This excerpt from her book shows her interpretation of the emptiness of the cross.
Our Lord on the cross possessed nothing.
He was on the cross which was given by Pilate.
The nails and the crown were given him by the soldiers.
He was naked, and when he died, cross, nails, and crown were taken away from him.
And he was wrapped in a shroud given him by a kind man
and buried in a tomb which was not his.
Christ emptied Himself fully for the salvation of man, living each day of His earthly ministry as God made man. He lived on this earth with nothing to His name and took on the humble trade of a carpenter. In everything except sin, He experienced the hardships and sufferings of man. Ultimately, He emptied himself in one of the most humiliating ways possible as He carried His cross and was crucified for the salvation of mankind. It is amazing to know that Christ could have snapped His fingers and saved us all, yet He chose the emptiness and disgrace of the cross instead. He gave of Himself completely, even when the world would have thought He had nothing else to give.
All through Lent, we empty ourselves to the Lord as we wait on His coming. While He is always with us, this waiting period brings us closer to Christ as we partake in some of His sufferings. Through fasting and penance, we are able to understand, even in small ways, some of the love He has for us and the suffering He endured. By cherishing these last few days of emptiness in the Lord, in anticipation of Easter, we can hope to be all the more joyful at His arrival.