The redeeming value of our suffering and death

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

WE need to appreciate better the unavoidable condition of our life here on earth that will always involve some suffering in one form or another, and eventually our death. If we would only adapt the mind and attitude of Christ toward human suffering and death, we know that such condition can transform itself from being a curse to being a cure.

We are reminded of this wonderful truth of our Christian faith in that episode where Christ already predicted his impending passion and death on the cross, something that even Peter, the head of the apostles who just confessed to Christ to be indeed “the Christ,” began to rebuke Christ. (cfr. Mk 8,27-33)

Rather than rot in our pains and lamentations due to this fact of life, what we should do is to quickly unite our pains and sorrows and all the negative things in our life with the suffering and death of Christ that would surely lead us to his and our resurrection.

Of course, doing so would inevitably involve asking for forgiveness for whatever guilt we may have in those things that cause us pain, sorrow and death. And if we think that we are not guilty of any wrongdoing and yet are made to suffer, then what we have is a golden opportunity to be truly identified with Christ who was and is sinless and just bore all our sins and its consequences if only to redeem us.

Thus, if we truly follow Christ, then like him, we should not only expect suffering and death but also welcome them. That’s because in the first place we cannot avoid suffering and death in this life, no matter how much we try. But more importantly, if we have the same attitude Christ had toward his suffering and death, we know that our own would have a positive and redemptive value.

This is what Christian suffering and death is all about. It is a consequence of all our sins but is now converted into a means of our salvation, that is, if we suffer and die with Christ.

We need to understand well this basic truth of our faith so that we can avoid suffering unduly or suffering more than we ought. In other words, this truth of our faith enables us to suffer and die properly.

We all need to be reminded that all our suffering has a positive and favorable aspect. It’s not all entirely bad and negative, though in itself it will always be bad. But if viewed and lived through our Christian faith, that is, with Christ, there is something in it that can give us a greater good.

Thus, we should never suffer alone. We have to remind everyone that when we suffer, we should see to it that we avoid suffering by our own lonesome. That would make our suffering, whatever may be its cause, whether it is self-inflicted or caused by others, a useless and purely negative event.

We have to remember that there is no human suffering that Christ is not willing to make also as his own. And he does it because he loves us, he wants to save us, he wants to bring us back to him.

Christ loves us even if, according to our human standards, we do not deserve to be loved. Let’s never forget that because of this love, he, being God, emptied himself to become man, and still went further by assuming all our sins by going through his passion and death on the cross and by his resurrection!