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Make suffering meritorious

By: Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

A lot of love stories end with the words: “And they lived happily ever after.” Is that really true? There’s a guy who got married expecting to have a lasting marital bliss.

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After a couple of years, he was asked by the priest who solemnized his wedding how things were getting along. He replied banteringly, “Father, I’ve found out that there are three rings in marriage – engagement ring, wedding ring, suffe-RING.” (For other couples, it might be a boxing ring).

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The subject of this 22nd Sunday’s gospel is about suffering. Jesus tells His disciples that even he, the Son of God and Messiah, will have to suffer grievously and be put to death” (Mt 16,21), something which Peter could not fathom.

Pain and sufferings are part and parcel of human life in this “valley of tears” called earth – yes, even in the best of marriages as the above story conveys.

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There are the bodily, mental, emotional and psychological sufferings like the loneliness of a solo parent, the anguish of caring a bedridden parent, the drudgery of work aggravated by an unfriendly atmosphere, say, in an office.

As an existentialist philosopher puts it: “Suffering is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived.”

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Jesus adds, “If you want to be my follower…you must carry your own cross” (verse 24). “Carrying your cross” does not, of course, mean masochism or fatalism.

It does not mean that you just accept your fate and not do something about it. For instance, if you can prevent sicknesses by avoiding an unhealthy lifestyle like smoking, drinking in excess or eating food dripping with cholesterol, then by all means do it.

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If suffering is INEVITABLE or beyond human control like the devastating natural calamities or physical pains of old age, the Christian attitude is that we offer them to God, uniting them with the sufferings of Christ so they become meritorious and not wasted. In the words of St. Paul: “If you suffer with Christ, you will also rise with Him.”

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ASK YOURSELF: Am I doing something to remedy or alleviate the pain and sufferings of the people like donating blood to the Red Cross or visiting the sick? Do I cause the sufferings of my family, co-workers, neighbors, and others by my bad conduct?
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There would be less pain and misery if people knew how to respect the rights of others, if they were less selfish and more concerned of the needs and feelings of their fellowmen; in short, if people live up to the teachings of the Lord, especially loving one another.

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LAUGH WITH GOD. Visayan patient: Doc, my back is very pinful. Please priscribe midicine. Doc: OK, I’ll give you morphine. Visayan complained: Doc, what I need is lis pin…not mor pin!

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Hymns through Marriage: Newly-married Woman – “Papuri sa Diyos.” After 5 years of suffering – “Panginoon, maawa ka sa akin.” After 10 years – “Kunin mo, O Dios .”

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For comments, e-mail me at: belsvd@gmail.com.

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