Thursday, February 8, 2018

Ours Were The Sufferings He Bore

February 4, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

We know that Christmas has really ended because the readings today confront us with the reality of human misery. Job in the first reading, having been afflicted by Satan, confesses that man’s life on earth is a drudgery (mahirap o nakababagot na gawain). He lived in misery and spent restless nights for a long time. He concluded     with the statement: “I shall not see happiness again.”

This reality of human suffering is acknowledged by all religions. “All life is suffering” so would the Buddha say. However, while Buddhism would teach their believers to strive to escape suffering by the annihilation of all desires, the Lord Jesus teaches otherwise. He does not escape suffering. Rather, he faced suffering. When he was told that Peter’s mother in law was sick, Jesus approached her, grasped her hand and helped her up. He did not run away from human suffering. Instead, he approached it. In his Incarnation, the Lord came down from heaven to meet man where he suffers the most.  At evening, “they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons” to the point that “the whole town was gathered at the door.” This portrays the universality of suffering. Every human being experiences pain. We all have a share in the misery that afflicts all humanity.

Jesus did not only cure illnesses and exorcise demons. He did not only relieve people of their sufferings. He embraced our sufferings and made it his own. “To the weak I became weak.” These words of St. Paul may rightfully be said by Jesus himself. He, the Almighty Son of God, came down to earth and humbly shared in our misery. He went hungry and thirsty and also got so tired that once, he slept in the middle of a storm. He took upon himself our suffering and experienced the terrible pain of isolation. That is why on the Cross, he cried out: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” He went through the desolation of the Cross so that none of us may never go through it alone. He went before us in the experience of desolation and waits for us there so that when our time comes, we do not have to suffer alone. He will be there to accompany us. He will be there to help us carry that cross. By this we know that we shall pass through the pain and it is not because of our own effort but because he will be there to see us through.

“Ours were the sufferings he bore. By his wounds, we were healed.” “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up all their wounds.” Therefore, let us go to him and cast all our burdens upon him. Let us bring to him our sufferings and ask him to help us endure it. Having been assisted by his grace, let us help others carry their burdens. While having our own miseries to bear, let us help others go to him. He will not help us escape suffering but rather, he will help us go through it. He will give value to our suffering by making it making it redemptive. He gives redemptive value to our patient endurance of suffering. He gives suffering the power to atone for sins. By patiently enduring our suffering out of love for him, we are able to atone for our own sins and bring about the conversion of others. Patient endurance of suffering purifies us and makes us worthy of the rewards of eternal life.

Knowing that the Lord will be there in our most trying moments, let us courageously carry our cross. Let us say to him, “Lord, it is for love of you that I embrace this cross.”

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

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