The Suffering that Precedes the Joy

April 6, 2012 09:00 AM

In His hours of suffering and pain before death, Christ was always the faithful Son, doing the will of His Father regardless of the outcome. The lesson we learn from the Passion and death of our Lord is that only in uniting our will to His—even if that means suffering—can we ever hope to be granted the glory of spending an eternity with Him in paradise. 

As I reflect on this holy time of year, beginning with the celebration of the very first Eucharist at the Last Supper, I am again awed by the immense love Christ has for each of His children. There is no end to the lengths to which He will go to welcome home a single human being—even one who, at times, may appear to despise the very mention of His holy name.

In the midst of the many trials of our day, worst of all being the brutal scourge of death that takes the lives of thousands of preborn children daily, we have hope. The crucifixion leads to the Resurrection. 

Robert Gasper, editor of American Life League’s Judie Brown ALL News, wrote on this very concept recently,

In times of darkness we can draw inspiration from the saints of old, who suffered every imaginable torment and indignity while preserving the integrity of their faith. Just as the Roman Empire attempted to force the early Christians to offer a pinch of incense in an act of worship to Caesar, our government’s mandates and surcharges covering life-stealing contraceptives and abortions are an attempt to force an offering to the culture of death. 

What should the Christian response be in the face of persecution? Our hope is in the Lord, whose rising from the dead shows us that we need not fear the persecutions of this world. The Way of the Cross is ultimately the road to victory. We must not prostrate ourselves to the world and its empty threats. Listen to the words of St. John Chrysostom describing what our attitude should be to the evils of our day:

The waters have risen and severe storms are upon us, but we do not fear drowning, for we stand firmly upon a rock. Let the sea rage, it cannot break the rock. Let the waves rise, they cannot sink the boat of Jesus. What are we to fear? . . . I have only contempt for the world’s threats, I find its blessings laughable. I have no fear of poverty, no desire for wealth. I am not afraid of death, nor do I long to live, except for your good. I concentrate therefore on the present situation, and I urge you, my friends, to have confidence.

As we approach the celebration of Christ’s rising from the dead, let us be refreshed in our confidence that no matter the tools used by the culture of death to threaten us, we will only be strengthened in our resolve. With the Lord at our side, there is no threat that can hinder our pursuit of the culture of life for ourselves and our progeny.

God be with you!

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