As we enter into Holy Week and recall the sufferings of Jesus, let us remember the “reason” for his sufferings: his great love for us. Let us reflect today on the link between suffering and love.
When we are experiencing pain, it is easy for us to long for a world without pain. Imagine a world with no headaches, no misunderstandings, no cancer, no loneliness, no terrorism, no hunger, no wars. Sounds pretty wonderful, no? But if we delve deeper, we see there is often a direct link between suffering and love.
Malcolm Muggeridge, the British journalism and Christian apologist, said he would not want a world devoid of pain. He maintained that everything he had learned that truly enhanced his existence had been learned through suffering. He said, “If it were possible to eliminate affliction from our earthly existence by means of some drug or other medical mumbo-jumbo, the results would not be to make life delectable, but to make it trivial and banal to endure.”
This is not to say that pain is good. Sometimes pain is the direct result of people’s evil choices, choices that flow from pride, greed, hatred, lust, and selfishness. We are called to work to alleviate this type of pain. Other pain results from accidents, natural disasters, incurable illnesses—all parts of the human condition. We are called to respond to these afflictions with love and compassion, for even these sufferings can be our teachers.
Pope Benedict XVI was asked about ridding the world of all suffering. He said, in order to rid the world of suffering, you would first have to rid the world of love, “Because love always demands an element of self-sacrifice.” He added, “And self-sacrifice will always brings with it renunciation and pain.”
A few examples might help here:
* Why does it cause us so much heartache when we see our children, grandchildren, or other family members making poor or even dangerous choices? Because we love them so much and care about them.
* Why do we grieve when we see some of the headlines in our news? Because we basically love and care about people, our country, our world.
So this Holy Week let us pray…
Loving God, when I’m experiencing pain and I’m longing for a pain-free world,
help me to recall that much of my pain is wedded to my love.
I love, therefore I care. I care, therefore I hurt.
Lead me to see that loving always demands self-sacrifice,
and self-sacrifice always involves a certain amount of suffering.
Give me the grace to embrace the pain in my own life
that is a direct result of my loving.
And help me respond to the suffering of others with care and compassion.
I ask for these things through Jesus your Son
who embraced the pain of the cross out of his great love for us. Amen.
Can you give examples of how your suffering is wedded to your love?
What do you think was Jesus’ greatest pain as he underwent the crucifixion?
PS: Thank you! A big thank you to the 110 women who attended the Lenten luncheon at St. Rita Parish in Solon, OH on Saturday. I really enjoyed being with you and reflecting on HOPE together!
PS: Upcoming Retreat: I will be leading a retreat at the Sophia Center in Atchison, Kansas May 15-20. The retreat is entitled: “Prayer: Finding God in the Ordinary and Amazing.” The retreat begins at 7:00 pm on Tuesday evening and ends with lunch on Sunday. All are welcome! Visit their website or call Sr. Carol Ann at 913-360-6173 for details.
I reached back in history for today’s song “Were You There?” This song was likely composed by African-American slaves in the 19th Century. It was first printed in 1899. This American spiritual was one of Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite hymns.
What are you thinking and feeling right now about this reflection and/or song? Please feel free to respond below.