Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"If you really want to love Jesus, first learn to suffer, because suffering teaches you to love."

If we only knew the precious treasure hidden in infirmities, we would receive them with the same joy with which we receive the greatest benefits, and we would bear them without ever complaining or showing signs of weariness. - St. Vincent de Paul

Scripture text: (HEB 12:4-7, 11-15)
Brothers and sisters:
In your struggle against sin
you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
You have also forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children:
My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
or lose heart when reproved by him;
for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
he scourges every son he acknowledges.
Endure your trials as “discipline”;
God treats you as his sons.
For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?
At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,
yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who are trained by it.

So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
Make straight paths for your feet,
that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.

Strive for peace with everyone,
and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God,
that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble,
through which many may become defiled.

Recent international events have reminded us that in our struggle against sin around the world, some of our brothers and sisters surely have endured severe opposition. In the last year, hundreds of thousands have lost their homes and jobs, and many, refusing to renounce their faith, have shed their blood.

When one hears such things in the news it is tempting to see suffering as punishment but suffering is not separable from human existence. To seek perfection and fully embrace his humanity even Jesus suffered.

Suffering brings about transformation when we carry the cross like true disciples of Jesus.

Each of us has a cross to carry. We must all identify our crosses and carry them with patience, joy and love. Why complain about something which is our means to gain eternal life?

As Thomas a' Kempis reminds us, "The cross, therefore, is always ready; it awaits you everywhere. No matter where you may go, you cannot escape it, for wherever you go you take yourself with you and shall always find yourself. Turn where you will -- above, below, without, or within -- you will find a cross in everything, and everywhere you must have patience if you would have peace within and merit an eternal crown.

If you carry the cross willingly, it will carry and lead you to the desired goal where indeed there shall be no more suffering, but here there shall be. If you carry it unwillingly, you create a burden for yourself and increase the load, though still you have to bear it. If you cast away one cross, you will find another and perhaps a heavier one" (The Imitation of Christ, Book II, chapter 12).

However, too many of our contemporaries are like those who stood at the foot of the Cross and cried out to Jesus that he should come down from the Cross. Many would like to have a Christianity without self-denial, discipline and renunciation. However, Christianity without the Cross is not Christianity at all.

What is your cross? Maybe you have many crosses to carry. How do you carry your cross? Do you complain? Are you discouraged? Do you run away from the cross?

There is only one way to carry your cross. Carry your cross with generosity. Carry your cross with patience, love and joy. See in your cross your sanctification, your eternal salvation. Understand that with your cross, united to the cross of Jesus, you have a continual opportunity to save souls and make reparation for so many sins.

As we open our hearts up to this concept of suffering, in the company of God and others, we become more real.

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