“The sufferings of the present time are nothing compared to the glory to come.” Suffering – and the picking up of the cross – are part and parcel of our human experience. Jesus tells us repeatedly we must pick up our cross and follow him. Pal reminds us in our second reading this week that we will suffer greatly, but our eternal reward will be infinitely greater. Our society today encourages us to try to mask or avoid the suffering. Indeed many of the ‘new age’ preachers talk about the gospel of prosperity and focus on the notion that if you are ‘good’ and praise God, he will reward you with a good life. But God does not promise us this at all. In fact, quite the opposite, we are encouraged to embrace our crosses here in this life that our eternal happiness may be assured.
As Vincentians, the truth of the embracing of suffering goes even further. Much as the fireman runs into the fire, so too we run to the suffering – the sufferings of others that we might embrace both them and their pain. It is in that suffering that we can both see and reflect the presence of Christ. It is there that he meets us to walk with us. Do I work to deny or hide from suffering, or do I embrace it? Mine and that of others?
Father, let me willingly embrace my sufferings, connecting myself to the cross of Christ. Allow me to accept suffering with the grace of Mary, the Mother of Jesus who knew suffering more intimately than anyone. Help me to reach out to others, helping them to both embrace their suffering and connecting myself to their pain that they may feel the presence of Christ in the midst of their pain. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen