Yesterday the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches celebrated the Exultation of the Cross: Christ transformed an instrument of torture into a source of blessing and so we Christians rejoice in the Cross. It’s really something profound to celebrate the Cross and rejoice in it! In this same vein, St. Paul writes about rejoicing in his suffering: rejoicing in our suffering only make sense in light of the Cross of Christ. Suffering, in and through Christ, is redemptive, as St. Paul indicates:
“I rejoice in my sufferings 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”
Basically, St. Paul is saying that he is grateful to suffer because it helps others. It is because of Christ and his Cross that suffering can take on redemptive properties. By the way, what is lacking in the suffering of Christ? Simply, our participation in it. We are called to live Christ: if we share in the suffering and death of Christ, we will share in his glorious resurrection. There is no one who gave a better example of living Christ than the Mother of Christ… and so, the Church gives us the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows.
Our Lady knows what it is to suffer because she was there at the Foot of her Son’s Cross. The movie The Passion of the Christ gives only an intimation into the suffering of the Blessed Mother. Her very heart was struck through when Christ’s side was pierced by a soldier’s lance. This was the fulfillment of a prophecy indicating that Our Lady’s heart would be pierced in union with Christ, for the sake of others, for their redemption. When we suffer, we can ask for her help in uniting our suffering to the Cross, as she did, so that others would be healed through it.
God brings good out of suffering–- that is reason for rejoicing in the midst of hardship; Incidentally, rejoicing might not have anything to do with feelings. I could write more about this subject but this post is enough for now.