Saturday, October 27, 2012

"There are no crown wearers in heaven that were not cross bearers on earth."

"The suffering of this life not only can make our temperament more like the Divine Personality of Jesus, but it detaches us from this world. This Divine preparation opens our souls to the working and pruning of the Father." -Mother Angelica

(Gospel Text: Lk 13:1-9)
Some people told Jesus about the Galileans
whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.
He said to them in reply,
"Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way
they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!
Or those eighteen people who were killed
when the tower at Siloam fell on them?
do you think they were more guilty
than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!"

And he told them this parable:
"There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,
and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,
he said to the gardener,
'For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree
but have found none.
So cut it down.
Why should it exhaust the soil?'
He said to him in reply,
'Sir, leave it for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;
it may bear fruit in the future.
If not you can cut it down.'"

As children we learn very quickly that if we misbehave, we are going to suffer the consequences of our choices. We grow up knowing, then, that bad things happen, that we suffer, when we’ve done something to deserve it. Eventually, we believe that the only possible reason we suffer is because we’ve done something wrong. But is suffering really a punishment? Do we really deserve it? Again, Jesus strongly tells us, “By no means!”

Using the example of the Galileans Pilate has killed, Jesus explains that while they did suffer greatly, they did not suffer because of something they did wrong. Their sins weren’t any worse than anyone else’s. Notice that Jesus doesn’t explain why they suffered; only that it wasn’t punishment.

I can’t give you an easy answer, but I do know that the One who has a plan to prosper us and not to harm us, holds our lives in His hands and whispers patiently to our hearts that our suffering is not punishment.

I firmly believe that God does not will for us to suffer; He doesn’t plan for bad things to happen to us. But He can use them to bring about beauty and joy, hope and strength, in ways that would not have been possible if we didn’t experience suffering. Suffering can teach us discipline in our faith, reveal to us who we truly are, and bring us closer to God, if only because we are clinging to Him for dear life. 

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