Good News Reflections:
Making scripture meaningful to your daily life
by Terry Modica
“To follow Jesus into resurrection glory, we have to first join him in his mission, which goes all the way to the cross.”
Good News Reflection for:
Monday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time
September 11, 2023
Beloved Lord, give me boldness to give You the ‘yes’ You expect, and courage to accept the trial. May I understand that the price to pay is worthwhile, because at the end You will always be present with Your miraculous will and work. Amen.
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Healing and suffering for God’s kingdom
I believe in miracles that bring an end to pain, not only in biblical times but also for today’s needs. I have witnessed them and I have experienced them personally. I have also learned the value of a different kind of miracle: the mystical union with Christ that comes from “offering up our sufferings” — what Saint Paul describes in today’s first reading as filling up, through our own flesh, “what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.”
Complete what is lacking? What could possibly be lacking in what Jesus did on Good Friday?
Christ’s sufferings were a complete gift of love, and it totally made a difference, but this world has an ongoing need for salvation. We who are now his followers all have the very important responsibility of continuing his mission — all of us! When Jesus said, “Follow me,” he was beckoning us toward heaven. To follow him into resurrection glory we have to first join him in his mission, which goes all the way to the cross.
This means that we are not truly his followers if we do not make sacrifices for the sake of the salvation of others.
However, despite the redemptive value of suffering, in our Gospel reading today, Jesus makes it clear that it is good — very good — to preserve life and improve life and that it is his desire to provide healing. In fact, he demonstrates that putting an end to suffering is a better way to honor God than what the Pharisees were trying to do.
In an apparent contrast to this, Paul finds joy in suffering; to him, it’s a very significant way to honor God.
So, when should we ask for a healing and when should we grit our teeth and bear our pains for the Lord? Keep in mind that Paul’s sufferings in this reading came from imprisonment, not disease. However, no matter what the source of our sufferings, there are two essential gifts of love that are embedded in all of them if we want to be holy.
One is the gift of our life: We choose to let the Lord decide what to do with our illnesses, our crises, and our other painful trials. We use every means that he provides to overcome hardships; meanwhile, we choose to allow our sufferings to unite us to Jesus’ redemptive love on the cross.
The second is the gift of our death: Before we die physically and follow Jesus to heaven, we die to self, we die to our desires and our ideas of how our sufferings should end and how swiftly, and we do this as a sacrifice of love. By letting Jesus lead us, we become channels of his mercy and sometimes even his miraculous intervention.
In other words, when I am healed, that’s nice. But when others benefit, either through my healing or through my sufferings, that is so much better! It unites me — and those other people — to Jesus in his resurrection.
To reflect more on this, use our WordByte called: “My Crucifixion” @ https://wordbytes.org/lent/my-crucifixion/.
© 2023 by Terry A. Modica
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