Friday, June 17, 2016

The Crucifixion and the Value of Suffering


Before I begin, know that this post will be intense.  But so is life, right? 

I love deductive arguments, so I'll start off with one :).

Premise 1.  Our world worships pleasure.
Premise 2.  Christians worship Jesus in union with the Father and the Spirit. 
Premise 3.  Jesus is not of this world (John 8:23).
Premise 4.  We, as Christians, are not called to be of this world (John 15:19) and therefore the opposite of the world.
Conclusion.  Therefore, as Christians, we are not called to worship pleasure but are called to be more joyful in the opposite of pleasure than in pleasure itself for we are not of this world.
What is the opposite of pleasure?  Suffering.  Yes, I'm implying that one should be joyful in suffering: precisely because of its hidden value.  A value that lasts longer and has more worth than pleasure.  A value that is eternal life itself.  This value is the entire goal and purpose of our human life. 

When Jesus appeared to St. Faustina, He said, "If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering."

Pleasure as pleasure is not wrong.  God gives us pleasure because He Loves watching His Loved ones be happy, and through that happiness, worship Him.  But just because pleasure is good doesn't mean suffering is bad.  God doesn't enjoy watching us suffer, at least by the way many understand these words.  God allows us to suffer so that we may take part in the redemptive mission of Jesus on the Cross.  It is when we choose to unite our sufferings to the Cross that He "rejoices" in our suffering.  

We are called to continue the redemptive work of Jesus on earth.  To do this we must understand how Jesus ultimately completed it and how we are called to bring people to this completion.  Jesus fulfilled this mission on the Cross.  

Was the Cross pleasurable?  Did Jesus have fun or feel good on the Cross?  No, it was so stressful that just thinking about it caused Him to sweat blood.  

He was scourged by whips with metal hooks and sharpened animal bones, and even atheist historians believe that this scourging was one of the most brutal Roman tortures ever in history.  If you've ever seen the masterpiece The Passion you'll know what I mean.  And Mel Gibson even admits that he didn't make it as gory as it probably was.  

What about the crown of thorns?  The plant this "crown" is from is the Euphorbia milii.  This is known to have some of the sharpest thorns of any thorny plant.  This isn't even the worst part.  These thorns contain a sappy substance which is actually poisonous when taken internally.  Imagine when the thorns pierced Jesus' head.  Imagine how the poison would've been released into His brain

How about when He carried the heavy cross?  Scientists believe that the open wounds from the scourging would've clotted to the cross.  Imagine the pain of when Jesus fell.  Not once, not twice, but three times.  Every time Jesus fell, His flesh was torn open due to His blood clotting to the cross.  

What about the crucifixion?  7-9 inches of metal being driven into His hands and feet.  Because of the position of the cross, His body would've been contorted causing bones to dislocate.  Because of this position and the loss of blood, breathing would've become nearly impossible, eventually causing asphyxia and, of course, death.  

All this doesn't even include the psychological, or emotional, pain involved in the crucifixion process.  Seeing "God's People" kill God.  The ones who just a week before wanted to crown Him as King crowned Him with a crown of thorns and set Him off to die.  Jesus saw the agony of His mother at the Cross.  All but one of His closest friends betrayed Him.  He lay on the cross completely naked and exposed for the people to see and mock.  These are all just the smallest aspects of the emotional pain that took place.  

This is the suffering that won for us the freedom that we strive for: eternal life.  The salvation of billions of people all because of suffering.  We are called to unite our suffering to the Cross for the Salvation of souls by the act of "offering up."  By offering something up we place our suffering in God's Hands and ask Him to bring Grace out of this suffering.  This Grace is given to ourselves, for others, and for the salvation of the entire world.

Romans 5:3-5 completely nails the point of rejoicing in suffering.  "...We even rejoice of our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us." -Romans 5:3-5

Pray for those who suffer: that, if it be God's will, He will relieve them of their sufferings and show them how to suffer the way He desires.  

Thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who died in the Orlando shootings and also for the souls of those who died.  Eternal Rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may your perpetual Light shine upon them. 

God bless you all and know that I am keeping you in my prayers!  Please keep me in yours! 

-JP














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