By Kathy Fanger
As we continue our Lenten journey through Holy Week, we reflect upon Jesus’ life, Passion and death, and his glorious Resurrection. Jesus suffered rejection and excruciating pain – all for our sins. Aware of his mission, he was obedient to his Father’s will, even death on the Cross.
In our lives, we, too, experience suffering. It is often inescapable: sickness, an accident, cancer, broken relationships, broken dreams. We suffer when those we love suffer. We share their pain. We especially suffer with grief when a loved one dies. Sometimes, the only prayer we can beg of Jesus is “Help!” Jesus prayed, “Father, take this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). We, too, implore God to take away our burdens. We cry out and sometimes wonder if God hears. Jesus himself cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22).
It is natural to want to push suffering away, yet when we face our suffering and grief, aligning them with Jesus’ Cross, we become transformed. Paul G. Crowley, S.J. in his book “Unwanted Wisdom” cites Karl Rahner, S.S., who believes that God does not will us to suffer, however God allows suffering. God works in and through our suffering, never abandoning us. “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted, he rescues those whose spirits are crushed” (Psalm 34:18).
Our suffering places us near to His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary
Imagine the piercing agony that Jesus’ mother endured on the road to Calvary… seeing her son suffer in such pain, weeping at the foot of his cross, and cradling his lifeless body in her arms. Simeon foretold, “And you yourself a sword will pierce” (Luke 2:35). Mary understands our suffering and grief. We can speak with her and pray the Rosary, especially the Sorrowful Mysteries, for strength, drawing us close to her Son.
Our Catholic Church offers us traditional prayers which give us words for the times we have no words of our own. We can also resort to silence. Saint John of the Cross teaches, “Silence is God’s first language. In our dark hours, it can lift our sufferings to God.”
We need not bear our sufferings alone
When Jesus, in weakness and pain, bore the heaviness of carrying His cross, Simon the Cyrene carried His cross for Him. There are others who offer to carry our crosses. When we find it too difficult to pray, the saints and those in the Body of Christ pray for and with us.
Jesus lights the path of hope
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25). We need to trust that in Jesus’ cross and our crosses, our suffering and grief will be transformed. We will receive a new spirit.
Lent leads us to the empty tomb and the resurrected Messiah, whose triumph over sin, suffering and death promises our own resurrections. For us who suffer, death is a way to new life. For our loved ones who have died, “Life is changed, not ended” (Roman Missal). We look forward with great hope to when we, too, are called home to be united with Christ and with our loved ones forever. May our prayer this Lent unite our suffering with the Lord’s suffering so that we can find in him the life he promises and enter into joy.
|Having Faith During Difficult Times
April 29, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Saint Francis of Assisi Parish
5111 San Felipe Rd, San Jose
Presenter: Msgr. John Sandersfeld
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. How has faith helped me during the difficult times in my life?
For more information, contact Kathy Fanger (650) 428-3730 x508 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org. The event is free.