Today we enter into the holiest week of the liturgical year. From the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, to the Upper Room in Jerusalem, and the institution of the Eucharist and the mandate to wash one another’s feet on Holy Thursday, to the Cross on Good Friday, and to the Tomb on Easter Sunday, we accompany Jesus during his final days. This week is a powerful reminder to us of what discipleship is all about. Suffering and death, which is embracing the cross, are the only way to Resurrection and glory!
There is no point in being sentimental about suffering. No one likes or wants to suffer, but it is a reality, and a part of everyone’s life at some time or another. What we need to do is take some time to reflect on the meaning of suffering.
Suffering can be seen as an opportunity. The value of suffering does not lie in the pain of it, but in what the person who is suffering makes of it. Suffering can purify one’s soul and transform one’s character. Pain is a part of our being truly human, helping us to be compassionate and more understanding.
Suffering is not a punishment from God. God allows us to suffer because good can come out of it. Our pain can bring us closer to God and thereby experience more fully his love and power.
Jesus, the innocent and sinless one, has gone down the road of suffering before us. On the cross, as he stretched out his arms between heaven and earth embracing all of humanity, he showed us the greatest act of love the world has ever seen as he gathered up all human pain and suffering and made it his own.
We see how, in the midst of his great suffering on the way to Calvary, Jesus cared about others: the women of Jerusalem who sympathized with him, the thief who hung next to him, and his mother as he entrusted her to John. There was nothing but absolute love flowing from his heart. Even when they nailed his hands and feet, he continued to love.
Jesus did not die to save us from suffering. He died to teach us how to suffer. Though the road of suffering is narrow and difficult, it is not the same since Jesus travelled it. A bright light now illumines it. Those who join their sufferings to those of Christ become a source of blessing for others, and will share in Christ’s Easter joy.
May all of us take time this week to sit still, be quiet, and reflect on Jesus’ great act of love!
– Fr. Dennis, March 28, 2021