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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC
"Life in all its fullness“(John. 10,10)

- Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

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Seeing Jesus in the suffering

By Dr Remila George

When we look at problems in the world today, we may tend to be discouraged. There doesn’t seem to be much place for God in a world overwhelmed by problems such as warfare, unemployment, pollution, robberies, violence, drug addiction and incurable sickness. Yet it is in this world that Christ’s call rings out strongly and clearly urging us to listen to His Word, seek Him and follow Him in love. It is especially in our care for the sick that the world should see how we Christians love, not just one another, but one and all who are suffering.

“For He did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted” (Ps 22:24)

The Gospel makes us aware of Christ’s great desire to be with those who are sick and to reach out to the outcasts of society. He seems to have reserved a special love for those who were abandoned because of their illness. His response to the leper who implored Him, “Sir, if you want to, you can cure me,” (Mk 1:40) reveals His extraordinary compassion. Jesus stretched out His hand, touched him and said, “Of course I want to. Be healed” (Mk 1:41). How do we recognise the face of Christ in those who are sick? The marks of suffering on the sick are the marks of their identification with Jesus.

St Paul’s deepest experience is of suffering with Christ. It is not a mere feeling but he was able to experience Christ in his suffering, so he was able to rejoice in it. “Now I rejoice in my suffering for your sake and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His body which is the Church” (Col 1:24). St Paul also urges adherence to Christ in faith.

Christ wanted to identify Himself with everything in our human experiences, in our human conditions, except sin. In the garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, Christ took up all our ills – even the fear of suffering and of death, in His own human way. When we experience pain and fear during times of sickness, we know that He has been through it before us. In and through our sickness, we are more closely identified with Him. Christ passed through the humiliation of the cross to the glory of the resurrection. Now that He is in glory, the limbs that were bruised and the wounds caused by the nails, shine with resplendence. The marks of suffering on the sick are their marks of oneness with Jesus. These marks are radiant with the glory of Resurrection. For resurrection is not just a future hope, it is the present reality.

“This would be my consolation; I would even exult in unrelenting pain; for I have not denied the words of the Holy One” (Job 6:10)

The Good News is that, in Christ, all suffering can make us obedient children of God. We have Christ Himself as our role model. “In His life on earth Jesus made His prayers and request with loud cries and tears to God, who would save Him from death. Because He was humble and devoted God heard Him. But even though He was God’s Son He learned through His suffering to be obedient” (Heb 5:7-8).

The sign of Christ’s total obedience is His acceptance of passion and death. In all His suffering, His scourging, His way of the cross and His agonising death, we see Jesus sustained by the strength of the Father. Only those whose eyes have been opened by the Lord can contemplate the mystery of God’s love in the Crucified Christ. Mary’s eyes were opened. She contemplated the mystery in her Child. In deep silence she contemplates the mystery of God in her Son hanging on the Cross. At the foot of His cross, Mary continued to pray, “May it happen to me as you have said it” (Lk 1:38). Her “Yes” was total. On Calvary she was silent but her “Yes” at the foot of the cross filled the whole Church with her Yes — her Yes to God’s mystery of Salvation, her Yes to her vocation to be the Mother of the crucified redeemer and spiritual mother of the disciples.

The suffering which Jesus underwent on the way to His glorious resurrection is now called the blessed passion. To those suffering, the message is, “Don’t waste them. They are too precious.” St Peter tells us: “Think of what Christ suffered in this life and then arm yourselves with the same resolution that He had anyone in this life who has bodily suffering has broken with sin because for the rest of his life on earth, he is not ruled by human passions but only the will of God” (I Pet 4:1-2)

“If you will seek God and make supplication to the Almighty...surely then He will rouse Himself for you” (Job 8: 5,6)

We are urged to offer up suffering in union with the crucified Lord for the whole church. Suffering in union with Christ becomes a powerful prayer of intercession. There is not an easier way than to be crucified with Christ. The cross in our daily life today is that factor - rarely of our own choosing - through which we die to ourselves, to our own self will and self seeking.

If we accept it in union with Christ, the suffering involved is transformed and we carry the cross with Christ. To those who suffer Jesus always says: “Come to me all who are burdened. I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). When we pray for those who are suffering we are responding to the Lord’s invitation. We are bringing the suffering to the Lord. Looking at Christ in the sick and suffering people, we begin to have a faint idea of the measure of His love and as we pray with the sick and suffering we announce to them the good news of God’s healing love.

You can rise above each struggle when you place your trust in Him. When your Spirit’s heavy-laden and your sorrows get you down, don’t weep bitter tears of sadness nor give way to despair. Don’t give up; you have a Father you can always reach with prayer. You can reach Him when you’re troubled, be it during the day or the darkest night. He is always there to listen. Just remember that He is waiting; He can make all things come right. He can soothe your worried spirit, He can lighten every pain.

 
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Divine Australia invites you to healing Masses and retreats to be held across various venues in New South Wales, Sydney. To be led by Fr Augustine Vallooran VC. For details, email Fr Roni George, Director, Divine Australia - drcsydney@gmail.com.

Date: 2 - 7 October, 2018

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Date: 22 September - October 1, 2018

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