A Suffering Soul can become the Envy of us all!
There are many articles written regarding suffering, and the most prevailing is that of Jesus. Sin and suffering go hand in hand, but not on the same level. The suffering mankind endures came about through the sin of Adam. Our suffering has also come through the rejection of man to God.
Through the catechesis of God’s plan to redeem his creatures’ rejection suffering would become the path that He would ordain to accomplish his forgiving love. Perhaps this abjection leaves a dark and empty entity for the average person and to confront this actuality might be too frightening to endure.
Right from the beginning of his ministry Jesus encountered rejection even by those he was closest too. We could say the essence of suffering for our Lord began here.
Looking through the lives of the saints we see that they accepted the reality of suffering as a certain closeness to what our Lord absorbed throughout his ministry. From the Sacred Scriptures, especially Isaiah, Jesus never had much in the way of a peaceful existence. “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” (Mt. 13: 57).
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Lk. 9: 23).
“Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed”? “He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, One of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem” (Is. 53: 1, 3).
“The beginning of calamities” “Then they will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. And then many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another.” (Mt. 24: 9-10). A prediction of the ultimate conclusion the Apostles would face accepting their following Jesus in the same ministry.
A cross is not hanging on a fence post or comes mail-order. But, deciding to follow Jesus when it goes against all social and spiritual events, that are not welcomed in social circles, the harshness from people will become a cross that many might decide to stay away from.
It’s not likely that most believers will be hung or lose their heads by an executioner. St. Thomas More lost his head over an issue of a divorce of King Henry VIII. However, your standing up for Church dogmas may allow you to keep your head, but may deny acceptance into social organizations because of your beliefs. You could be ostracized which may force you and your family to leave the area if continued adherence remains.
Reading what caused many saints to lose their heads or to become ignored in the business world can make us envious of the courage these martyrs held onto. This scenario might be too severe, but Peter was crucified upside down; he felt not good enough to be crucified like his Lord. Paul wrote right up to the time when he would lose his head, still leaving us with words of encouragement. It is believed the 2nd letter to Timothy was his last.
It is doubtful that any of us will seek extremes and become physical martyrs, but martyrdom comes in different situations.
If a fictional story puts a hero in jeopardizing positions, obstacles arising before our main character, who had to fight through them all, perhaps we could place ourselves in his position. In the end our hero overcomes all the turmoil with us cheering his success, imagining it was us as hero stories tend to make us feel as a victor. We would applaud the victor and forget his suffrages.
Recipients of attacks that lead to suffering don’t end that way. The Passion of Christ did not end the way of our story’s scenario, and neither will ours.
Of course, the real success of Christ’s Passion did end as a success as his Father ordained. But it took his cross to accomplish our redemption. Accept our own cross that is placed before us, and others will behold our suffering with envy.
Ralph B. Hathaway, A suffering soul!