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I don’t always like God’s plans for my life.
I don’t always accept or understand redemptive suffering.
Whenever I hear the story of the mother in 2 Maccabees who “encouraged one another [her 7 sons] to die nobly” I’m perplexed (2 Maccabees 7).
Whenever I hear the story of St. Jose Sanchez del Rio, a young boy of 13 who went into battle and was martyred for Christ, a part of my heart recoils (Holy Heroes Glory Story).
It’s hard for me to accept redemptive suffering in my life:
- secondary infertility
- broken relationships
- living away from family.
It’s even more difficult for me to accept redemptive suffering in the lives of those I love:
- my husband
- my children
- my friends and family.
Especially as a mother, it’s hard for me to imagine having the courage it takes to send my children into battle with my full approval and blessing.
I tend to be like Peter in the Gospel, when Jesus foretells of his Passion and death. I want to say “God forbid, Lord!” in the face of suffering. (Matthew 16:21-23)
I tend to be like Peter at the Transfiguration. In good times, I say, “It is well that we are here, let us build tents and stay!” (paraphrase, see Matthew 17:4)
But as Our Lady told Bernadette at Lourdes: “I do not promise to make you happy in this world but in the next.”
So, sometimes the Lord has to say to me: “Get behind me, Satan!”
And sometimes the Lord has to say to me: “You don’t know what you’re saying.”
I have to learn to listen to the beloved Son of God. I have to learn to trust in his plan, even when it seems like a terrible, lousy idea to me. I have to learn to pick up my cross, to come down off that mountain, and to embrace redemptive suffering.
Not necessarily to seek out suffering, but to accept and embrace it when it comes my way.
Every life has crosses. And if we can identify those crosses and name them for what they are, then maybe we can remember that the Cross leads to the Resurrection.
This is why we Catholics hang crucifixes in prominent places in our homes: not because we love suffering. But because suffering is undeniable, unavoidable. And to remind us that best way to approach that suffering is like Christ: embracing it with selfless love.
Only this way can our suffering be transformed.
Only this way does our suffering find purpose.
I have a long, long way to go in learning to embrace my crosses and accept redemptive suffering. Out of all the 14 Stations of the Cross, I may still be at the second: learning to embrace my cross like Christ.
But, whether I like it or not, I intend to walk this road with Christ, by his grace.
I will read his words over and over: “Take up your cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
I will reflect on the mother in the Maccabees, and the mother in the Glory story of St. Jose Sanchez.
And I will pray:
Come, Lord Jesus!
Teach me to trust in You.
Help me come down from the mountain.
Help me embrace the crosses in my life.
Let me follow the path you have planned for me.
Show me the glory of redemptive suffering.
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