The age-old problem of why people suffer has puzzled thinking minds down the centuries and has never been answered with any degree of satisfaction. Jesus never explained why we have to suffer, nor did he rid the world of suffering. But he did give suffering a meaning and a value by filling it with his presence. He took up his cross and went into the very heart of suffering, trusting and praying that God would see him through it. Jesus encourages us to take up our crosses and follow in his footsteps. The only sure promise we have is that every cross, no matter how hard it is to bear, if united with the cross of Jesus Christ, becomes meaningful to the ultimate point to being a source of salvation for us. The crosses we carry in life can become ladders that lead to heaven.
However, the cross, which is at the centre of Christian living and of Christian hope, is not an invitation to lead a miserable life. Rather it is a call to face our sufferings and carry our crosses in a spirit of hope, confident that Jesus walks the road ahead of us and reaches back to help us along. When Peter declared to Jesus in today’s gospel “You are the Christ”, he had in mind a simplistic notion of someone sent by God and whom God would protect from all harm and would bless in every way. Jesus rejected that notion and kept to God’s plan that he walked through the valley of tears – which so many of his followers would walk as well – into the glory of heaven.
Kevin Donaghy PP