Suffering an opportunity to unite ourselves to God

| Deacon Adam Tokashiki | March 15, 2016 | 0 Comments

Many people today consider suffering something to be avoided at all costs. For those without faith, suffering is a mystery, a meaningless misfortune that randomly affects some people. But experience shows us that suffering is a basic human experience, one that affects every single human being to various degrees.

In the March 20 Gospel reading, we hear the Passion narrative, indeed a narrative of intense suffering. The idea of carrying our cross, of penance, of suffering with Jesus and being crucified with him, as St. Paul suggests, is not very appealing. St. John Paul II taught us about the redemptive value of suffering, which was redeemed by Jesus who suffered for us on the cross. Suffering need not only be an evil to be avoided at all costs. Instead, it is an opportunity to unite ourselves to God. St. John Paul II said in his apostolic letter “Salvifici Doloris,” “Suffering is, in itself, an experience of evil. But Christ has made suffering the firmest basis of the definitive good, namely the good of eternal salvation.” Suffering, when united to love, leads to salvation.

However, we might think, “But Christ already died for me; I don’t need to suffer or die!” We have to remember that we were not baptized into the resurrection of the Lord, but as St. Paul tells us in Romans 6, we were baptized into his death. And by virtue of our baptism we became members of Christ. We die to ourselves in baptism so that he would continue living, dying and rising in us. Salvation is not an isolated event that happened 2,000 years ago; rather, it is an ongoing event in and through his Church. When St. Paul said, “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me,” he really meant it.

Jesus gave himself completely on the cross. Our own cross is a loving invitation from Jesus to meet him where he was most vulnerable, most loving, most passionate (to the point of thirsting for us!). Suffering, when united to love, is no longer meaningless.

This Holy Week, let us embrace the cross, encountering the one who thirsts for us, suffering, dying and rising in him. We are the people of the paschal mystery.

Deacon Tokashiki is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity for the religious community
Pro Ecclesia Sancta, which serves St. Mark in St. Paul. His teaching parish and home parish is St. Mark.


Sunday, March 20
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Readings

  • Isaiah 50:4-7
  • Philippians 2:6-11
  • Luke 22:14–23:56

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Category: Sunday Scriptures