Love and Suffering
Thursday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
James 2:1-9, Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, & Mark 8:27-33
“Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”
In today's Gospel, Peter boldly proclaims, "You are the Christ" to our Lord's question about his identity. In saying this, Peter acknowledges Jesus as the one promised, who would save us from ourselves and our humanity. Peter must have felt sorrow and perhaps protective of the man he had come to follow and love. However, in Peter's human weakness, he is rebuked when unable to accept the road of suffering our Lord must take to accomplish salvation.
How often do we hope to prevent or alleviate the suffering and pain of those we love? As humans capable of love, this is understandable and altogether the way of our Lord. Our heart's deepest desire is happiness as well as our neighbors, friends, and family. Suffering, it may seem, should not accompany us along this path.
Our world expects a quick fix to all that may trouble us, be it physical, mental, or spiritual. We believe that someone or something should come to our aid with haste. However, if we are willing to accept our Lord as Savior, we must also accept and follow the road He took to accomplish this. In suffering, our humanity breaks down and our divine nature conforms to that of Christ. Bishop Fulton Sheen said it best: "Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into our hearts is to break them."
Perhaps the best support we can give to our loved ones who suffer can be found in a verse of today's Responsorial: "Glorify the LORD with me, let us together extol his name. I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears." The keywords are "Glorify the Lord with me." A loving presence is what the Lord hoped for from Peter and the Apostles in his suffering. Our loving company can erase the fears of those becoming more like Christ.
—Deacon Joseph Boyle, M.A.