Perhaps the suffering is meant to unite us in compassion and action.
The world today, and most certainly the Church, are living in the shadow of the Cross.
No matter what one’s religion, nationality, or for that matter one’s lack of belief, we are all under the Cross. The sufferings we are undergoing and those to come should serve as a moment to awaken mankind to our need for God.
In the well-known fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty,” the princess at last awakens to “true love’s kiss” from her Prince, allowing her to return to the “real world” and all is well again. There’s a lesson for us in “Sleeping Beauty.” At this time in history, suffering is the kiss that seeks to awaken us. It is the kiss from our true love: Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, who stirs our spirits, enlightens our minds, strengthens our wills, and bids them to work together to promote the Kingdom of God on Earth.
What we can hope for in this world—ever battered, blood-stained and terrorized—is that this violence, this rejection of God by so many, and the general widespread indifference towards God and all things divine, will unite peoples around the globe to a true and lasting unity for what is good and holy. The suffering that I witness in my neighbor must unite my heart with his heart. It must spur me to feel for his losses, to understand his fear and his pain. To be simply a “decent person,” we must be capable of being a witness to others’ suffering and more besides: we must be willing to be a co-sufferer, to suffer with others, in other words, to have compassion.
What great good God can bring out of these evils, if we could unite with others’ sufferings and become as one body—becoming a mighty force for good, for all that God wants for His world, all that He wants for His children.
The Cross will overshadow us until the end of time. Suffering will always mark our earthly existence, but like Christ—Who sought to unite the world by His Suffering, Death, and Resurrection, in order that we be as one—we can use the suffering of the world to unite under the banner of Christ—the Cross.
The ordeals of our persecuted brothers and sisters, the injuries and deaths of innocents at the hands of cold-blooded killers, should impel us to unite in mind and spirit to say: “Enough!” Their suffering should unite us in prayer, to whisper to the Almighty: “Mercy!” It should unite us in body, so that we stand by our neighbor in need and reassure him with a loving: “I am with you!”
Whether our neighbor is next door or in the Middle East, the Ukraine, North Korea, China, Nigeria, Uganda or Central America … no matter where in the world a crisis erupts, it must unite us for good, unite us for God’s sake, and with renewed respect for His Law. We must pray that all religions, nations and people of all political beliefs and backgrounds will come together as a force for good to combat the present forces of evil.
During World War Two, a Portuguese diplomat named Aristides de Sousa Mendez lost his job for issuing passports to Jews and others in danger of being taken by the Nazis. He explained his actions in these words: “ I would rather stand with God against man rather than stand with man against God.”
De Sousa stood in the shadow of the Cross of Christ. In that shadow he was united with his brothers and sisters of all faiths during the awful years of Nazi rule. The unity of his heart with those around him who were suffering and fearful enabled him to do the right thing. With charity and God’s blessing he was able to save many lives.
There can be unity of all peoples under the Cross. United with Christ and our brothers and sisters, we can help Him re-establish His Kingdom for the good of all.
Sr. M. Michele Jascenia, SCMCis a religious with the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of the Church and resides at their Holy Family Motherhouse in Baltic, Ct She teaches elementary school and is a freelance writer.