Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
We’ll begin and end this piece with Padre Pio.
Speaking about human suffering Pio said: “Jesus does not ask us to carry the heavy cross, but a piece of his cross, the piece that consists of human suffering.”
Suffering has shaken the faith of many.
When good people suffer we question, we’re puzzled.
Yet Jesus always taught his followers to expect it, not to run from it, but to pick it up, carry it and follow after him.
It’s very clear that Jesus believed suffering to be an essential element on the path to salvation.
He even goes as far as calling Peter’s objections the work of Satan!
Jesus teaches that if you try to avoid suffering – the stuff that just comes your way, uninvited – which he calls wanting to “save your life” you will actually lose your life; losing your life here (in this context) means losing salvation.
Catch a hold of that! The refusal to carry the suffering you can do nothing about means the loss of salvation, the loss of the next life!
It’s a teaching that couldn’t be more opposed to the whole euthanasia and assisted suicide movement.
It’s a teaching that couldn’t be more opposed to the often voiced preference for a bullet rather than a care home.
It’s a teaching that puts most people offside!
Jesus goes on; if you embrace your suffering, seek to carry it for the sake of Jesus and the gospel (in the worldly sense “losing your life”) you’ll save it, you’ll merit salvation – heaven.
There is no resurrection for Jesus without the passion.
There will be no share in that same resurrection for you and for me unless we also share in that same passion, in whatever format it comes to each one of us.
In 1947 forty five people, most of them war orphans between the ages of four and thirteen lost their lives at sea, shipwrecked less than 100 metres from shore off the coast of Italy.
When Padre Pio was asked about the tragedy he replied:
“It would do you well to listen. There is a mother embroidering. Her son, sitting on a low stool, watches her work, but he sees everything backwards. He sees the knots of the embroidery, the confused threads. So he says: ‘Mother, what are you doing? Why is your work so unclear?’ Then his mother lowers the frame and shows the other side of her work, the fine part. Each colour is in place and the variety of threads is composed neatly and harmoniously.” Padre Pio concluded, “Down here we see only the reverse of the embroidery. We are sitting on the low stool.”