Saturday, November 16, 2013

Jesus is With Us in Our Suffering... Really!

The Gospel readings of this time of year openly proclaim the suffering that comes with belonging to Jesus Christ. Whatever our sufferings may be, if we endure them in union with Jesus -- or, to put it another way, if we recognize our own sufferings as belonging to Jesus Crucified, to Him who has made the suffering of every person His own, then He will shape our hearts through this endurance into vessels that share in His love. Thus He will bring us through death in Him to Resurrection.

The love of Jesus that changes us and brings us to fulfillment is resisted by the "world" -- that is, by the realm of all that closes itself to God and His love; not only the exterior "nations" and the powers that be and the media, etc., but also every aspect of our own selves that has not been completely given over in trust to His transforming love.

To say that "God permits us to suffer so as to bring about a greater good" is more for us than a theoretical conclusion in metaphysics; it is more than a resigned "consolation of philosophy." It is a miracle that is happening in this very moment, because Jesus is with us in our suffering, and whether or not that brings us any consolation is not what matters. What matters is that it is a fact: He is present, and when we stay with Him, when we endure in recognizing and adhering to Him even in the deepest darkness, He changes us.

In the darkest, most painful, most incomprehensible moment, He has hold of us. If we stay in His arms and endure with Him, then He will raise us with Him to an eternal glory that is beyond our understanding, but that draws us through hope, and that begins -- even now -- in the radiance and the mysterious power of the love by which we say yes to Him, by which we endure our weakness being taken up by Him. For "the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Corinthians 1:25), stronger than everything.

This love seems so small and helpless and may be unnoticed in the world, or even by the person who thus loves. It is the smallest of seeds, sown deep in the earth and broken open, that rises up to an abundance of fruit.