The Meaning of Suffering

Luke 9: 22-25
Dt 30: 15-20/ Ps 1: 1-2, 3, 4, 6

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
(Luke 9:23)

Have no fear for problems or pain,
Just hope for the blessings life will bring.
Behind the trials, there’s a gain,
God has a purpose for everything.

Jesus said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Then He said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? (Luke 9: 22-25)

Reflection

For those of us who are blessed with material comforts and financial stability, suffering for the sake of our eternal salvation is the kind of language that is hard to comprehend. It may help us if we reflect on this question: Why did Jesus have to suffer? The obvious answer is: because of mankind’s sin. It was necessary for God to incarnate Himself in this world to suffer and die for our redemption, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn.3:16). Jesus’ suffering and death were clearly pivotal to God’s love for mankind. But if we truly believe in Him – to qualify for God’s salvation – then we must deny ourselves and take up His cross and follow Him. We must naturally reciprocate His love.

‘What if I have no cross to carry?’ You ask. Then perhaps you might seriously consider helping others carry their own crosses in life. This season of Lent provides us the opportunity not only to reflect on our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but to put our love and commitment to Him in action. There are many who profess to be Christians, but they never try to practice self-mortification like fasting during Lent, almsgiving, prayers or meditation. All of these practices are fruits of self-denial, which is the answer to the apathy and worldliness that now confront our generation. Jesus made it clear that self-denial is the determining factor of a true Christian faith. This was how the life of Bro. Nemitz was formed by his Savior. Orphaned of his mother at seven, this eldest son of a bus driver had to take care of his siblings while helping look for means of survival, like selling root crops to augment their father’s meager income. As a working student in Manila, he earned his lodgings by serving as houseboy and driver to relatives, and for two years walked miles to school due to the lack of fare money. Rising out of poverty, he became a successful lawyer, and he showed his gratitude to God by serving his community in civic and religious organizations and as a public servant. He could have had a lucrative law practice in the big city (Manila), but he chose to serve his poor constituents in a rural province in Bukidnon, serving as its governor. Coming from destitution, he and his teacher wife chose to serve the poor and underprivileged. Bro. Nemitz believed that by denying himself, he chose the things of God, and not the things of man.

Our Lord Jesus paid the price for our redemption. To reciprocate His love, the least we can do is submit to His discipleship, take up our crosses daily, and serve humbly as His servants. Unless we are willing to follow Jesus, we can never hope to claim membership in His Mystical Body, nor an inheritance in His heavenly kingdom. May this season of Lent draw us closer to our God and Savior.

It is to live for You through serving others, my Lord, that I accept the cross You offer me. In bearing life’s hardships I hope to be Your disciple, joyful in this privilege. Amen.

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