Last Sunday we reflected upon dying to our selves in order to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God. Another way of expressing this truth in our lives is with the metaphor of carrying our cross. The Readings and Gospel call us to meditate upon the reality of the cross and suffering in the life of Jesus. This will inevitably lead us to reflect upon our own encounters with suffering. How do we embrace the cross of suffering and sacrifice in our lives?

 

When we confront suffering in our lives and embrace the cross that Jesus gives us to carry, we do so in the knowledge that Jesus has passed this path before us and prepared the way for ultimate victory over all the struggles and problems in our lives. Though, at times, the way forward can seem at best to be murky and unsure, we can know with sure knowledge that Jesus is with us all the way to the end. He will not abandon us and nor will He allow our sufferings to be so great that we will be overwhelmed by them. St Paul, in today’s text from Philippians, reminds us that ultimately Jesus will have the victory over all things and that He will receive the fullness of the glory that God the Father wishes to bestow upon Him. This is the promise for us as well if we will choose to endure with Him to the end!

 

Nowhere do the Scriptures or the Church affirm that suffering is good in itself – however, both consistently affirm the redemptive value of suffering. When we unite ourselves with the suffering of Jesus we have the privilege of actually “making up for what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.” (c.f. Col 1:24) This very mysterious text always gives me great hope when I have to confront any sort of suffering, whether my own or others. God even allows us to join our sufferings with His and so become co-redeemers with Him! This is a true sign of the dignity of the human person! As we reflect upon the mystery of the sufferings of Christ, perhaps in the light of our own sufferings, let us draw strength from the knowledge that we are being united with Him in a most mysterious and powerful way.

 

How do I approach the reality of suffering in my own life and in the lives of others? Do I approach it with hope or have I allowed despair to enter into these encounters.

 

Lord Jesus, you can bring life and goodness out of the most hopeless situations. Help me to embrace the truth with unwavering trust and hope that you have and will continue to bring life out of all the different situations and encounters in my life.