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Christ's own people found it difficult to recognise, in a Person suffering pain and humiliation, the King or warrior they awaited as a Saviour. But in His Resurrection Christ performed a marvel greater than any achieved in a throne-room or a battlefield. Truly, He and God the Father are One, as Christ said.
As Jesus was close to Mary and Martha when their brother Lazarus died, so, He is close to all who mourn and weep today, sharing their sorrow.
Amazing results can spring from generous acts and prayers, in union with Christ our Saviour. Through every act of freely-borne penance, or patience in pain, it's as if we can reach out, in Christ, to draw people back from the edge of the Abyss: people who are trapped in unrepented sin, or who have terrible problems and weak faith. None of our sufferings need be wasted.
People who try to persevere in doing good, in ordinary life, even in obscurity, or with unexpected hardships, or further problems which seem impossible to survive, are walking steadily upwards towards Heaven, like the woman on a narrow street, sloping upwards, in a Mediterranean town.
People who churn out pornography for others to read are following the wishes of the same evil spirits who urge people to use their power to remain in power: resulting in the innocent suffering torture, or solitary confinement, or medical experimentation or other grossly sinful practices.
It is shocking that people are indifferent to the pain felt by each baby who is torn apart by abortion, in an age when people are rightly concerned to minimise the pain felt by a lobster as it is killed before being cooked. Pro-abortionists know that to become concerned about pain in abortion is to prove beyond doubt that a human being is being slaughtered, not a mere mass of cells; and they do not want to be reminded.
We must not hold on to a slavish fear of God. The second Person of the Blessed Trinity took flesh from the Blessed Virgin Mary, to be made man, able to suffer and die in earthly life, to save sinners. The gentle love in the heart of that Divine infant is the tender love at the heart of the Trinity.
Except in special circumstances, we can find that, if we open our hearts to God, even in difficulties which seem insufferable, we allow God to act in our lives and our souls, whether by unexpected changes, or simply by pouring upon us His comforting graces. As Jesus said: 'Come to Me if you are burdened, ...and I will give you rest'.
God our Father loves us. He hears us, every time we pray. As we 'hold up' before the Father, in the name of Christ, people who are dear to us, and people who are sick, bereaved, or suffering temptation or other trials, it's as if we are strolling round our neighbourhood, asking the Father to grant His peace, strength and joy first to one person then to another; and our prayers are worthwhile, whether or not we notice visible results.
What a comfort is our God! Even if we are being mercilessly treated, we know that God's love for us is so great that He came amongst us in the Person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who made Himself one will all who suffer. He was willing to live and die, as man, to fulfill the Father's plan of Salvation. He triumphed over sin and death; and we can triumph, too; if we live and die 'in' Christ.
When Christ gives us a gruelling task to do, it can seem as though He has asked us to haul a heavy bag up a freezing slope, as we are not only exhausted by our efforts, but also exhausted by fending off the assaults of Satan. He delights in trying to make us despondent, and constantly interrupts our prayers; yet with Christ's help we can persevere.
How ungrateful many Catholics are, for Christ's saving Work. If we ever fail to go to Mass because we can't be bothered to plan our travel, or organise our meals or our children, we would do well to reflect on the sufferings of our fellow-Catholics in far-off countries, who would walk miles to attend Mass, if they could, but who are often kept away, or imprisoned, or worse, by their enemies.
Priests, especially, must not regret their state of life. We cannot avoid all suffering, in this life, but God can help us to bear it. No-one should envy people who have another vocation. Which is the greater sacrifice: doing without marriage, to become a priest, or suffering within a difficult marriage, to be faithful to the Lord's teaching? God the Father will reward all who make sacrifices for His sake, since He is just.
God's entire nature is Love. He is never unloving. The Father wants us to entrust ourselves to His care as confidently as a tiny child who entrusts himself to the care of his good mother. He knows of our sufferings and problems; yet He can bring good out of evil, make the weak strong, and make us joyful, ready for the joy of Heaven.
We must not give up when trials come. We sometimes meet what seems like an earthquake on our 'road to glory', as we follow Christ's way to Heaven. Whether it is caused by opposition, or assaults, or natural disasters, or weakness springing from our own nature, we can still move forward, even amidst our difficulties. It was said of Christ, 'for the sake of the glory that lay ahead, he bore the shame of the Cross'. So it can be with us.
We are all horrified to think of victims of an avalanche, many still trapped beneath tons of rocks and snow, in their vehicles. Those who died have had a dreadful end; yet no suffering is as great as that experienced by people who die alienated from God, and unrepentant. In life, they were being damaged by sin as their intellects and consciences were darkened. Without repentance, sinners risk the loss of God after death, forever: a state called Hell.
Christ wants us to realise that wherever there is suffering and injustice, His love is needed: His love, and respect for all who are generally treated as inferior or even worthless: girls and women, the uneducated or sick or disabled, or people of another race or background. A really just society is one that follows the teachings of Christ. We can ask, as a 'measure' of justice anywhere on earth, 'How are women treated in their families?'
If we are willing to be united with Christ in bearing unavoidable sufferings with patience and trust, and praying for the Church and the world, we become like Him, we join in His redemptive work of the Cross. It's as though we are with Him, beside the Cross, busy applying His Precious Blood as a healing remedy to the wounded souls for whom we pray.
Christ understands what many of the elderly suffer. On the Cross, He suffered not just pain, but also the helplessness, weakness and loss of control that many patients experience who are neglected in hospitals, and who should turn to Him for consolation when they are grieving about the apparently disastrous end to their lives.
None of us can imagine how close Christ is to His holy Mother Mary. He Who created her was later born of her. Her love for Him, and her trust in Him, were perfect. He confided in her. She knew, even before the Apostles did, that Christ would suffer; and so she prayed, and endured, and waited; and she consoled her beloved son by her presence.
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