29Th Sunday in Ordinary Time B

Mark 10:42-45

A Mind-Blowing Mystery is Suffering.

What’s its purpose?

Physically Jesus suffered horribly in His Passion and death. He suffered mentally in the garden before His arrest. He suffered emotionally from the rejection of people. Jesus even suffered the abandonment of His closest friends. He died alone.

All His suffering had a purpose. He suffered for our good. "By His wounds, we are healed" (1 Peter 2:24) of our self-centeredness. So why do we suffer? God allows us to suffer for the same noble reason, the good of others. Some gifts are so good they cost us a lot.

I learned the value of suffering over 22 years ago. I was laid up in a chair for six months. My lungs were full of dead blood and tissue caused by an allergic reaction to my cockatiel, Nellie. After three years, her dander got the better of me. I couldn’t talk for three months or take a deep breath, doctor’s orders. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I screamed from deep within my heart, angrier than I have ever been -"GOD, IF THIS IS THE BEST WAY I CAN PRAISE YOU, THEN BRING IT ON." My Hungarian got the better of me. From the top of my head, a quiet peace flowed down me to my toes. I knew God was with me. I had His strength. I never looked back. I accepted my condition that lasted six months. I stopped beating myself up with painful thoughts like "Why me?" Or "What did I do to deserve this." I was at peace.

Then something happened that changed my view of suffering. Hundreds of people asked me to pray for them: they still do. I couldn’t concentrate on praying words because of meds or pain, so I offered my pain and suffering for their good. Even to this day, people come back and tell me how God answered their prayers. So, my everyday crosses, though much smaller, are still a powerful means of prayer.

The Gospel Challenge: "Greater love no one has than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." In any sacrifice, great or small, our Father sees His Son in us. Who will you suffer for today?

For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45.)

Suffering is all grace when offered for another’s good.

IGNITE THE FIRE. God bless you, my friends.
Fr. Rick Pilger, I.C.


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