From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
September 19 – Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
I do not like pain – and I don’t like suffering! Truth be told, if we are totally honest with ourselves, I suspect that is a pretty universal sentiment. It’s a part of our human nature. Pain and suffering are a consequence of the sin of Adam and Eve. They come as part of the package with sin, death and sickness. I dare say, many of us have become far more familiar with pain and suffering over the past two years than we wanted to. Our gospel this week (and last) have Jesus teaching us about pain and suffering. “The Son of Man is to be handed over…and they will kill him.” We heard last week that he must suffer greatly, and that if we wish to come after him, we must deny ourselves, pick up our crosses (aka – suffer greatly) and follow him.
The point though, is not about the intensity of Jesus’s suffering – or ours – but rather that he was totally faithful to the Father and trusted that he would be delivered from the pain and suffering. Pain and suffering causes us to turn inward, focusing on ourselves and what we want rather than others. Our second reading warns us against becoming inwardly focused. That’s hard when we are suffering. Satan uses the suffering to distract us from our focus on God and compassion for others. God calls us though to embrace the pain and suffering, connecting ourselves completely to the cross of Christ. Jesus did not seek pain but embraced it so that he might lift us past our pain and suffering. God sent him that he might know our suffering, connect to it, and lead us past it. When we accept our pain trusting in God’s will for our lives, we are drawn ever closer to our Lord Jesus. Many saints (Padre Pio among others) are shining examples of embracing the pain in faithful obedience and trust in God. When we do, Jesus embraces us in love compassion and mercy.
As Vincentians, we are confronted on a daily basis by others who are suffering. Some provide tremendous witness to us on the acceptance of circumstance and suffering, trusting completely that God will provide. Others struggle under the burden they carry. Jesus came in part to lift our burden. Through SVdP he calls us to reach out in mercy and compassion to help lift the burdens of others. We are called to shoulder some of their suffering. We are called to help them to move beyond their pain. When we help them to see the presence and joy of Jesus in their lives, we give them hope for the future. Where am I on my journey? How well do I embrace my own pain and suffering? How do I give completely and sacrificially of myself to the care of others? Do I simply help those in need, or do I walk with them as Vincent did, and as Jesus does every day with me? How do I show them the hope of the future?
Lord Jesus, let me embrace my pain and suffering, accepting it as my cross that connects me to you. Help me to be the conduit of your hope for those I encounter who are suffering as well. Grace me with obedience to God and trust in His mercy and compassion. Let my focus always be outward seeking your will for myself and others. Draw me ever closer to you. Help me to pick up my cross and be your servant to all I encounter. We pray all of this in your name. Amen