Lenten Trials – Lesson of Redemptive Suffering
Sometimes in going through our own “Good Fridays,” we will have special need of the support of friends and family, the spiritual guidance of a good priest or someone else who excels in discernment. Perhaps even the help of a doctor or licensed counselor. In any event, persevere through your trials. Remember that Jesus who humanly experienced the anguish of feeling forsaken by God (Mt. 27:46) is the same Jesus who moments later committed his spirit into his Father’s hands (Lk. 23:46), knowing that the Father will test us to foster our spiritual perfection (see Heb. 2:10; 5:7-10), but he will never truly abandon us. Quite to the contrary. Keep that in mind this Holy Week and beyond.
The secret to redemptive suffering, Jesus lets us know, is docility in discipleship: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 19:14).
Being childlike is definitely not the same as childishness. The latter evinces the immaturity that often goes with childhood. The former bespeaks the radical trust children can often exhibit toward their parents, a trust we don’t like to be reminded that we need to keep exercising in adulthood as the Good Lord’s disciples. The world chafes at childlikeness, precisely because of the radical trust and death to self it requires. Well, it pays to be a docile sheep if you’re following the right Shepherd, who will test and prune like no coach or other earthly mentor, but who also love us and bring us to the greatest fulfillment possible . . . if only we trust.
Jesus leads the way in modeling this radical discipleship, asking his Father in heaven three times to take away his cup of suffering during his Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, yet always saying submitting his human will to the divine will (Mt. 26:37-44). And so, as we will learn again in the coming days, Jesus appears to be at his ignominiously weakest during his Passion and Death, and yet they paradoxically become the occasion of his greatest triumph—and of our greatest triumph (see 2 Cor. 12:8-10).
~ Tom Nash
National Catholic Register 4/13/17