How to Prepare for Suffering (aka Monday )
Devotional Thought of the Day:
38 Those who do not take up their cross and follow in my steps are not fit to be my disciples. 39 Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it. Matthew 10:37-39 (TEV)
5 For since we have become one with him in dying as he did, in the same way we shall be one with him by being raised to life as he was. 6 And we know that our old being has been put to death with Christ on his cross, in order that the power of the sinful self might be destroyed, so that we should no longer be the slaves of sin. Romans 6:5-6 (TEV)
14 But far be it from me to have glory in anything, but only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which this world has come to an end on the cross for me, and I for it. Galatians 6:14 (BBE)
On the Cross this readiness is put to the proof, and precisely the darkness in which Mary stands engulfed reflects the fullness of the identity of her will with that of Jesus. Faith is a community formed by the Cross, and it is only on the Cross that it achieves its full perfection: the place where redemption seemed utterly beyond our reach is actually the place where it is consummated. We must, I think, relearn our devotion to the Cross. It seemed too passive to us, too pessimistic, too sentimental—but if we have not been devoted to the Cross of Jesus in our lifetime, how will we endure our own cross when the time comes for it to be laid upon us? (1)
It is the week after Holy Week, and many students are returning to school after a week of freedom. They dread it, for the switch from freedom to discipline, from play to work is never easy. I think they get this, in part, from the adults they observe who return to work every Monday weary, tired, robbed of hopelessness. It’s as if we, adults and students, expect a lifetime of suffering during the week.
In truth, most of us don’t have ti that bad. It may not be Disneyland, but then again we aren’t listening to “it’s a small world” 400 times!
To put it simply, we don’t know how to deal with discomfort; we don’t know how to embrace suffering. We don’t want to lose the things that are precious to us, from family to creature comforts, to the comfort of our sin. And so we avoid those things, find escapes from dealing with the reality of life.
Which is why we so hate Mondays, why they cause such dread.
We don’t want these crosses, because we haven’t taken the time to contemplate the glory of the cross. Even the idea of it being glorious is a thought we are troubled by. We might write it off as a necessary evil, or the price Christ had to pay to redeem us. Glory in it? That sounds absurd!
Yet the man who would become Pope Benedict has it right, he understood Paul the Apostle so well! We need to contemplate the cross, to meditate on it, and understand what it means that no only was Jesus crucified there, we were crucified with Him. Our real life begins there, with Him, in a place where redemption and healing seem absurd, but both begin.
The Test of Discipleship, so fearfully laid out in Matthew’s gospel no longer seems as daunting. For when we realize the glory of His cross, when we realize it’s impact on us, then we can trust God to get us through the little cross we struggle with, especially on Mondays.
Our cross? In light of His cross, in light of the glory revealed there, may we run to it, bearing it, trusting God to use these crosses to bring blessings, to create something good, evil when “they” meant evil, or when the cost of suffering seems too high.
Even on Monday.
Cry out on Monday that cry that speaks of both despair and faith, “LORD HAVE MERCY!!”
And rejoice as that mercy is made sure.
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 110). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.