In the first reading Jeremiah the prophet laments all the ridicule and suffering he has to endure for the Lord’s cause, yet he burns inside to carry on because he knows he is preaching the truth, something no one can turn their backs on. He knows his message will save his people. St Paul in the second reading reminds us that spiritual worship implies sacrifice. Although the world tries to turn our minds away from the cross, the cross is the true path to life and fulfilment. By accepting our crosses and all the difficulties that life presents; we develop the right attitude towards the fleeting things of this world and are able to focus on what is truly important!
Have you accepted your Cross?
Jesus in Sunday’s Gospel teaches that the cross is a part of our lives, whether we want it or not. What matters is the way we face it. Jesus reminds us that a person may from a material viewpoint have conquered the whole world and have immense wealth, but not possess what is truly important! A completely fulfilled life does not exist in this world. For this world is simply the path to it and we are all wayfarers. Our future in eternity all depends on how we live our lives in this world. Jesus teaches that the only way to achieve what we truly desire is to take up our cross for sake of a higher cause, His cause. Pope St John Paul II wrote a great Apostolic Letter: Salvifici Doloris which addresses the true meaning of human suffering, but ultimately Jesus gives the answer to suffering, not only by his teachings, but above all by his suffering out of love for us. It is redemptive! So, by offering up our sufferings we become sharers in the redemptive sufferings of Christ. However, the world presents suffering as a great evil and some will do anything to avoid it, even to the extent of taking their own lives.
But the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches very clearly about this:
Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable. Thus, an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded (CCC 2277).
The next paragraph, however, teaches about over-zealous treatments:
Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of “over-zealous” treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected (CCC2278).
The important thing to remember is that suffering does not take away the value or dignity of a human life. God permits and uses suffering to teach us wisdom, compassion, patience, humility and many other things. He allows us to participate in His Cross.
Our sufferings are very different from animals, because animals don’t have immortal souls as each of us does. So, to euthanize an animal when its suffering is useless or unbearable is fine. When an animal dies, the animal soul dies with it. But as human beings we live forever! God may keep us on this earth whether in comfort or in pain, it is God’s Will. The Lord gives us the grace to cope with all the challenges of life and each cross is carefully measured by Him for each and every one of us. Moreover, we must remember that nothing conforms us so much to Jesus as sufferings borne out of love for Him and souls.
St Rose of Lima said:
Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.
St Therese of Lisieux teaches about sacrifice:
Souls reach eternal life through small sacrifices each day for love of God and love of others.
Let’s also remember to offer all our sufferings, misunderstandings, and difficulties to Our Lady. This is the greatest gift we can offer to Her because these allow Her to carry out in our time, Her work as Co-redemptrix. All she wants of us is prayer and suffering!
Praise be Jesus Christ and His Holy Mother, now and forever!