We have all eternity to enjoy, but only a few moments to suffer, to testify to our sincere and ardent love for our crucified Saviour and our God.
The disciple is not greater than the Master. The one who has no cross is no follower of the crucified. It would be a miracle to find a Christian without a cross, except in heaven. If you avoid your cross or are unwilling to take it up and follow Jesus, you are not worthy to be a disciple.
Our destiny here on earth is this: to conquer the world and ourselves by suffering in imitation of Jesus Christ in order that we might be eternally happy with him forever. The only true success in this life comes from following Jesus Christ. If we for a moment seek success elsewhere, it matters not how high or useful it may appear to us, we are deceived and we live and act in vain for Jesus Christ is the only Way, the whole Truth and the true Life. Therefore we walk astray when we act without Jesus.
RESPONSE: FR. PAUL ROBICHAUD, CSP
Today’s reflection from Servant of God Isaac Hecker addresses a classic Lenten question; how do we as Christians understand human suffering? Father Hecker begins with the premise that everyone suffers. No matter how successful or secure you are, there is a basic unfairness that penetrates through all our lives as human beings. No one who lives in our world escapes from the reality of suffering. The brokenness of sin in the world seeks to dis-empower us even further. Because we do not want to suffer, in attempting to escape from it or deny it, we become more broken and needy. The Scriptures, the Church and most especially the sacraments of the Church seek to empower us. Instead of running from sin and brokenness, we call on the power of Christ within our souls. Awakening the spiritual side of ourselves is what Lent is all about. With and in Christ we take on the suffering found in our lives and go through it with the sure knowledge that Christ has already overcome it and that he carries us through these moments. The more we encounter suffering with faith, fear dissipates, hope replaces fear, and we can respond with love. In this sense our response as Christians to the suffering we encounter in our lives both reflects, mirrors and channels the paschal mystery of Christ which we celebrate in Easter.
Father Hecker says, “The disciple is not greater than the Master…. It would be a miracle to find a Christian without a cross…. If you avoid your cross or are unwilling to take it up and follow Jesus, you are not worthy to be a disciple.” Life is hard and uneven but as Father Hecker reminds us that while everyone experiences the hardness of life, Christians have a way of contexting and transforming their suffering by connecting it to the suffering and death of Christ. As the brothers and sisters of Jesus, our suffering becomes a part of Christ’s suffering of Christ, and through Christ’s suffering God has chosen to redeem the world. May your experience of Lent deepen your faith, strengthen your hope and support your loving response to others.
Fr. Paul Robichaud is Postulator of the Cause for Canonization of Isaac Hecker.