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  • Writer's pictureNicole Haire

Suffering is Not Optional

Updated: Feb 24

Our society today is one that is adverse to any form of suffering. We avoid it like the plague: Have a headache? Take a pill. Feeling hungry? Order Talabat. Not enjoying your job? Tell someone off and quit. And, in some countries in the "civilized" world: Feeling too much pain? Ask someone to help you end your life. Despite our best efforts to avoid it, every human being in the history of the world has experienced some form of pain and suffering. So what makes Christians different in the face of this reality?

Whenever we want to shut out all the white noise and focus on the Truth, we turn to the Word of God.

The First Reading (2 Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14) describes the extreme physical suffering of the seven brothers who were tortured by the King in an effort to make them deny their faith. This also reminds us of the countless Christian martyrs who lost their lives throughout history rather than deny what they knew to be the Truth. What an example they are for all of us! We are called through this Word to stop and reflect: How much value do we place on this life we are living in this world today? How willing are we to disconnect ourselves from it? Do we truly believe that the only life worth living, for all eternity, will happen after we leave this world behind? As the fourth brother says, "It is my choice..."

In the Gospel reading (Luke 20:27-38), the theme of the seven brothers appears again. Jesus answers the Sadducees clearly when he confirms that the faithful will experience resurrection because "they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise."

It is a given that we all want to make it to Heaven in the end. So what do we do with our lives in the meantime?

Quite often, we suffer. The difference for us, as Christians, is that we are called to see suffering as something that happens for us, rather than to us. Michelangelo, the famous Italian sculptor, used to face a block of marble, chisel in hand, and "release" his masterpiece. When he fashioned his famous statue, David, out of stone, he didn't massage, pat, or speak sweet words to his creation: he chipped away the excess with a sharp tool until he revealed perfection. This is often God's way with us. When he says no to the things we ask for that won't serve us; when He allows suffering to take place in our lives that helps lead us on the path to conversion; when He gives us an opportunity to pick up our cross and follow Him, that is when we see the purpose in our suffering here on earth. There are no random acts and, in the end, with the help of His grace, we will find our way to salvation through our journey.

It is very easy for us to say "Blessed be the Lord!" when everything is going well in our lives. Our challenge, as Christians, is to see God at work in everything that happens for us, both joyful and difficult, every single day. Blessed be the Lord! Always.

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