Our Suffering as Christians is not Meaningless
Jesus responds to the request of James and John, the sons of Zebedee: "The chalice that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized” (Mk 10:39). James and John request to sit one on the right and the other on the left of Christ in his glory. They still have not understood the implication of the call to discipleship. They are not getting the point Christ is making about his mission in Jerusalem. They misunderstand the glory of Christ for the glory of an earthly kingdom.
Christ is indeed telling them that his glory is that of a suffering servant who Isaiah prophesied would be crushed, due to God’s permission and of his own volition (Is. 53: 10-11). By his drinking of the chalice of wrath and baptism of blood, he will pay the ransom for our sins. This suffering and trial of Jesus is the path his disciples should expect to follow. In the world, they shall know troubles (John 16:33) on account of following in the way of Jesus. As the letter to the Hebrew (4:14-16) reminds us, Jesus is the high priest who experienced our human condition, one filled with pains and suffering. He was tested and tried, he is aware of the temptations and suffering that we are going through right now. But he does not live us without help; and here is the good news.
In our human suffering, we shall experience grace, mercy, and kindness as well from God. If we persevere in hope and prayers to God of mercy and kindness, He will answer us in our times of need as Psalm 33 assures us. We can rely on the covenantal love and faithfulness of God. We will drink the chalice, but it shall become a channel of grace. This is called redemptive suffering. Our suffering in Christ and with Christ is transformative, not a meaningless one.
Next Sunday is World Mission Sunday. Part of the call to drink the chalice that Jesus drank is the response to the mission. Jesus calls us all to the mission. Some people respond to that call in a very radical way, making big sacrifices to spread the Good News of Christ's redemption beyond their home environment. Please let us support them spiritually and materially when called upon to do so. Thanks.
In the Suffering Christ,
Fr. Bernard Oniwe, OP