By Fr. Roy Cimagala
AND, yes, also our death, both of which are unavoidable in our life. In this regard, it’s helpful to consider the following words of Christ which he addressed to his apostles and to everyone who believes in him:
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” (Mt 20,18-19)
It’s important that with faith, we believe and accept these words, that give us a realistic view of our life and at the same time offer us a reassurance that everything would just be fine because Christ conquered suffering and death with his resurrection, and if we are with him, we too can conquer our unavoidable sufferings and death.
It’s important that we meditate often on these words of Christ, internalizing them, so that we can learn to feel at home with the reality of suffering and death, and can even be welcoming to them, knowing that if lived with Christ, our suffering and death actually possess redemptive value that is beneficial not only for us but also for everybody else. Our Communion of Saints would make sure that our suffering and death would have that effect.
We have to be willing to suffer the way Christ suffered for all of us. That is what true love is. No wonder that Christ himself said: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15,13)
No wonder also that as St. Peter said in his first Letter, “He (Christ) did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.” (2,23) We have to learn to restrain our urge to make revenge whenever we are offended in some way by others.
It is this willingness to suffer that would show how, like Christ, we can go all the way to giving ourselves completely to everyone, irrespective of how they are. That is also why Christ commanded us, as an integral component of true love, that we even love our enemies.
In true love, the lover goes all the way to identifying himself with the beloved with the view of giving the beloved what is objectively good for both of the lover and the beloved. There is a kind of unification and identification between the two that is based on what is objectively good for both.
We have to train ourselves to develop this kind of love. And we can use the usual conditions, concerns and circumstances in our daily dealings with others to develop that kind of love. Whenever some differences and conflicts occur among ourselves, we should be willing to suffer for the others, bearing their burdens, even if we also try to sort out and settle these differences and conflicts as peacefully and charitably as possible.
This willingness to suffer should be an active thing, not a passive one, waiting for suffering to come. We have to look for the opportunities to suffer. That would be a real proof that we are truly in love. What is more, such attitude would help us in protecting ourselves from temptations, sins and all other forms of evil!