“Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let no one among you be made to suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer. But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name.” (1 Peter 4:13-16, NAB)
Today, in the Western Church, we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord. We can not contemplate His ascension without also thinking about our Lord’s suffering while He was on earth. Our joy comes from the Lord and no one else. In speaking to His disciples about being obedient to the Commandments and loving one another, Christ tells us, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11)
In a similar vein of thought, St. Paul tells us that we “boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5) Notice too how St. James tells us that we should rejoice when suffering tribulations. “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
Our joy and our suffering are linked to Christ’s joy and suffering. Rejoicing in our suffering, with the right frame of mind, knowing that Christ is with us, makes us complete. As St. James said, the testing of our “faith produces perseverance” so that we “may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Christ, being our source of joy, makes enduring suffering bearable, especially when we have the indelible mark of the Holy Spirit.
May each of us, as we suffer with Christ, remain humble, without complaining to one another about our various situations, but instead, remain in a constant state of joy in Christ Jesus – knowing that even in our sufferings, we may one day be glorified with Christ as He promises.
God bless you,
24 May 2020