Suffering in Silence

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Building a Better Lent: Part 7

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We now enter Holy Week with the Palm Sunday celebration, marking the day Jesus entered Jerusalem amid much fanfare and praise. In a few days, the tide will turn as Jesus faces opposition and rejection; by week’s end he will be betrayed by one of his own, arrested, imprisoned, mocked, humiliated, questioned, put on trial, and finally sentenced to a gruesome death.

Yet in the Passion narratives we read in today’s Gospel, we find that once his torture and interrogation begin, Jesus does not have much to say. He is silent throughout the Roman guards’ abuses and Herod’s questioning; before the Sanhedrin and Pilate, he speaks only the truth and nothing in his own defense. On the road to Calvary, he stops to console the grieving women; from the Cross, he forgives his executioners, promises Paradise to the repentant “good thief,” and commends his spirit to his Father in heaven. He ministers to those around him in the midst of his own agony.

Bear Wrongs Patiently is a Spiritual Work of Mercy that we often find challenging. We shouldn’t be silent in the face of injustice, of course, and we must defend those who are oppressed. None of us wants to feel like a “doormat” when we are wronged ourselves. Yet Jesus’ response to his own persecution remains a powerful model even so: to imitate him in virtue, we ought to deal with suffering patiently, speak only the truth in charity, and focus not on our own pain but show compassion for the suffering and needs of those around us.

What action plan can we take from these readings?

  1. Suffering is a given aspect of life. It’s your choice what to do with it. Whether the pain takes the form of mistreatment or disrespect, the alienation of loved ones, injustices in the workplace, sickness or injury, or the daily stresses and disappointments of life, we can prayerfully “offer it up.” Keep your focus simple. If you’ve had a frustrating day at work, put that aside at the dinner table and cheer up your wife and children. God sees the effort and intention.
  2. Spend a little time imagining yourself in the garden – the Garden of Gethsemane (Lk 22:39-46). Listen to what Jesus says: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done” To his disciples, he twice says, “Pray that you may not undergo the test.” When you pray, do you truly submit to God’s will as Jesus did, making your own wants secondary to what God wants for you? And do you pray for strength and courage so that you might not be tempted beyond our strength? Form the habit today of always including these dispositions in your daily prayer. Be especially mindful of the words of the Our Father: “Thy will be done… and lead us not into temptation.”