One of the most difficult realities of being human is that it involves some degree of suffering. Even if it’s only small inconveniences such as tiredness and boredom, there is some form of unpleasantness in all of our lives. Some people mistakenly assume that if they become a follower of Christ that these problems will disappear and life will be one big party.
Carrying Our Cross
Unfortunately, The Lord tells us just the opposite in today’s gospel reading (Mk 8:27-33). He begins to tell the disciples that suffering will be a big part of His mission. When Peter attempts to rebuke Him, Jesus responds with the harsh words, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” What Jesus is trying to tell Peter is that there is a bigger picture to His mission.
While not in today’s reading, the next thing that Jesus says is, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” In St. Luke’s gospel, The Lord is even more specific as He states, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Lk 9:23)
Some individuals have been chosen to suffer tremendously in this life. Just like Peter, we may not understand why. Having faith in God means that we must trust Him, even if we don’t “get it”. God tells us that “… my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.” (Is 55:8-9)
Even though it might not take away our pain, we can always unite our suffering to that of Jesus. By doing that, we can be comforted with the thought that we can assist in the salvation of mankind. As St. Paul assures us, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church…” (Col 1:24)