Sunday Reflection: 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B
1st Reading Isaiah 50:4c-9a
2nd Reading James 2:14-18
Gospel Mark 8:27-35
When hardship, pain, and suffering surround us, how do we deal with them?
Our 1st Reading this Sunday from the Prophet Isaiah reminds us of the reality of suffering and pain. The suffering-servant of God endures through all the pains that come from those who oppose God with patience and hope. The pains that he took on himself was the pain of those who are faithful to God. In our Gospel this Sunday, Jesus predicts His coming passion, death, and resurrection. And the human reaction to this prediction is opposition. Who wants one’s beloved to suffer? Of course, no one wants this. But Jesus makes this clear to them, that His mission was to testify to the reality of life. His mission was to make the Father’s love be revealed to us and this revelation is through His sacrifice of own life. Any opposition to this mission is opposition to God, one becomes like Satan who is a hindrance to God’s plan.
Many of us these days are in pain, in suffering, and loss. Many have died in this pandemic that continues to destroy our hopes and plans for life. Many have lost their jobs and source of sustenance. How do we deal with all of these? How do we face all of these with hope? The Prophet Isaiah reminds us that the attitude of Suffering-Servant of God is that of trust and confidence. He continues to trust in God even in the midst of all the sufferings he was going through. He does not give up hope in the Lord whom he serves because he knows very well that God will not put him to shame for his faith in Him.
The Lord Jesus reminded His disciples in the same way, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” Our life that is well lived is a life that is offered and sanctified by the Cross of Christ. Christ offers us a way to suffer that does not end with bitterness and despair—this is the way of the His Cross. Christ offers us a way through suffering that is not lonely, way that is full of life—His very way to Calvary. He wants us to follow Him in our sufferings, he wants us to go with Him in this bitter valley. He wants us to be close to Him in our own pains and suffering. Christ does not take away from us the suffering that can make us holy and whole, He goes with us and shows us the way to face them with love and complete trust in the Father.
May our sufferings and pains never go unfruitful. Let us turn to the Lord and allow Him to come with us and show us the way. This is what it means to have faith, to continue embracing the cross because He is with us. What a joy it is to suffer with Christ! What a joy it is to suffer with the One who loves us deeply! This what it means to have faith with works. A faith that leads us through all the hardships, pains, and sufferings of life to that life that He promised us, eternal life of joy.