Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Taking Up Our Cross

I used to think that Catholics had an unhealthy attitude towards suffering, seeking it out and almost wallowing in it. The truth is, suffering is sometimes unavoidable. It is a part of human life. I have now come to believe that Catholics have the most healthy approach to suffering there is. When we encounter suffering, we unite it with the suffering of Jesus on the cross. The cross transcends time and space, touching every life that seeks union with God.
Why are we, too, supposed to accept suffering in our lives and thus "take up our cross" and thereby follow Jesus?

Christians should not seek suffering, but when they are confronted with unavoidable suffering, it can become meaningful for them if they unite their sufferings with the sufferings of Christ: "Christ ... suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps" (1 Pet 2:21).

Jesus said, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mk 8:34). Christians have the task of alleviating suffering in the world. Nevertheless, there will still be suffering. In faith we can accept our own suffering and share the suffering of others. In this way human suffering becomes united with the redeeming love of Christ and thus part of the divine power that changes the world for the better. (YOUCAT question 102)


Greg Stovall said...

Thanks, Greg. I really appreciate your post. I find Luke 9:23 interposed with Mk 8:34 to be interesting. One is from the perspective of follower, and the other the perspective of companion. Regardless of the perspective, Christ calls each of us to be dedicated to the mission regardless of the cost.

I find it interesting that many people point to suffering as the proof of non-existence of God, when Christians look at suffering as one of the natural consequences of true devotion TO God. Yes, we are called to alleviate suffering as we can and as we are directed, but this world will always have suffering, and obedience to Christ brings opposition from the world -- leading to personal suffering as we are conformed to the image of Christ.

Greg Graham said...

Thanks for the insightful comment, Greg. That is ironic that some use suffering as proof against God's existence.