We should be willing to suffer

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

IF we really want to be Christ-like as we ought to be, then we should be willing to suffer for God and for everybody else. This is what Christ did. He was willing to obey the will of his Father that involved the offering of his life for the sins of men.

Imagine what Christ had to go through to save us! Being the Son of God, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, he became man, he preached what is right and wrong, true and false in our beliefs and practices, performed miracles. But since we still cannot correspond properly or stably to all this goodness of God, he had to offer his life to forgive our sins.

We have to learn to follow this example of Christ who, as he himself said, is “the way, the truth and the life” for us. He went all the way to recover the lost ones, unafraid of all the sacrifices involved, living out the lessons he taught in those parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep and the prodigal son.

I wonder if we have this attitude of Christ. Unfortunately, what is more commonly observed is that many of us tend to be self-righteous, quick to find fault and to judge others. Many of us cannot stand being contradicted, insulted, mocked, offended. In other words, we are not willing to suffer the way Christ suffered for the mistakes and sins of men.

Many of us cannot even stand a view or position that is different or contrary to ours. It would seem that many of us are claiming that we have all the correct things, that what we have and hold cannot be improved, enriched or even modified and, much less, corrected. This is really the height of self-righteousness when intolerance, inflexibility and rigidity are the rules of the day.

This is not what Christ has taught us and has shown us with his life and teaching. Christ bore all the sins of men, assuming them as if they were his own and dying to them with his own death, but conquering them with his resurrection.

Though he was harsh with the leading Jews of that time, the scribes and the Pharisees who were supposed to know better, he, in the end, offered forgiveness to everyone, including those who crucified him, because as he said, “they do not know what they are doing.”

He was in fact very harsh with St. Peter himself who tried to stop him from going to Jerusalem to consummate his redemptive mission on earth. “Get behind me, Satan,” he told Peter in no unclear terms. “You are a stumbling block to me. For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Mt 16,23)

We just have to learn how to be patient and tolerant, open-minded, slow to judge, with a good grip on our emotions and passions, and ready to understand, to disregard irritating details and to forgive and ask forgiveness, as well adept in the art of congenial dialogue, avoiding being abrupt and abrasive. We have to learn to bear the burdens of the others, no matter how undeserving we feel they are.

Obviously, what should drive all these qualities is our growing and deepening love for God whose love for us precisely goes all the way in spite of our lack of correspondence and even our open hostility to him.

Absent this love, we cannot really go far in our effort to understand one another and achieve a measure of unity and harmony among ourselves. Sooner or later, we will end up squabbling that can degenerate into bitter conflicts and almost irreconcilable divisions among ourselves.

If we really have to reach out to those who are lost, we should be willing to suffer for them and with them, and not just insist on what is right and wrong. This way, we follow Christ.

Email: roycimagala@gmail.com