The Strength of Suffering
Daily Reflection -3/7/19
Jesus said to his disciples, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself? (Luke 9:22-25)
Suffering is present every moment of life. Our tendency is to flee from it, to avoid it. When we feel pain, we take every means in our power to get rid of it. In today’s society, there is a medicine to alleviate any pain or suffering we might feel. Yet, in every suffering, there is a lesson, and we remember the lesson better when we have suffered to learn it.
Christ foresaw his rejection, suffering, and death, yet did not flee them. He embraced them as a way of showing his most profound love. But the constant, on-going battle to imitate Christ may slowly wear us down. The path to perfection in the virtues is surely full of rewards, but it has its share of wear-and-tear. But it does not matter if we fall a thousand times, as long as we love the fight and not the fall. It makes no sense to despair, especially when we fight with Christ on our side. The effort of a prolonged battle can please Christ more than an easy and comfortable victory. Christ reminds us: He will suffer greatly, be rejected and killed, and everyone who wants to be his disciple must take up his cross and follow him.
With the coming of Christ on the earth, suffering took on a new meaning. He gave us the possibility to give to suffering, illness and pain the redemptive and salvific meaning of love. When the apostles asked our Lord who was responsible for the misfortune of a man blind from birth, Christ answered: “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him” (John 9:3).
Misfortune and weaknesses made St. Paul exclaim: “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). It is through denial of self, through the recognition of our weakness, through willfully embracing our trials and sufferings, that we can show the strength of God and the wonders of God in your life.
Our Lord’s words, closing today’s Gospel, tremendously shook Saint Ignatius and sparked off his conversion: “What would happen if I would do just as Saint Francis and Saint Dominic did?”. If only, in this Lent, the same words would help us to reach our conversion, too.!
Prayer of The Day
Lord, help me to see all that happens to me, even pain, suffering and illness, as an opportunity to love, grow in love and offer you my love.
Before doing something today I will pause and examine the motives of acting like that: is it for me or for God? If it is only for me, I will rectify my intentions or leave the deed aside, especially if I have the opportunity to do something else for God or to serve God in my neighbor.
- Posted in: Reflections