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Chapter 33

Mount Calvary

 

You will be consoled according to the greatness
of your sorrow and affliction;
the greater the suffering,
the greater will be the reward.
—St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi

 

 

Jesus suffered greatly, only without sin or self-pity.  We, too often, give in to temptation and sin because of weakness or fear of pain, like St. Peter did in the Passion, and yet he quickly repented and, “having gone out (of God’s will), wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:62)

Everyone, eventually, comes to Mount Calvary.  They come to the cross of suffering and pain.  The only question is, will they respond like the “good” thief or bad thief who were both crucified alongside Jesus our Lord? (Matt. 27:38)  Will they blame God or others for their problems and pain out of pride, self-pity and anger?  “One of the robbers hanging there reviled Jesus saying, “Are you not the Christ?  Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39)  Or will they, in humility and love, take responsibility for their sin and accept their cross of suffering and pain?  “The other, however, rebuked him, saying, ‘Have you no fear of God, seeing you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And indeed, we deserved it, for we are receiving the due reward for our deeds.  But this man has done no evil.’” (Luke 23:40-41)  Those who know themselves well, know that they deserve it, and indeed, that they deserve hell.  And yet, God is so merciful to sinners who turn to Him in sincere contrition and humility—“He said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’—that He gives them the hope and promise of heaven—‘Amen, I say to you, this day you will be with me in Paradise.’” (Luke 23:42-43)

Jesus suffers with us and for us, but do we suffer with Him and for Him?  He is crucified right before our eyes in those who suffer from drug addiction, both the person and their family, from the hidden crucifixion of rejection or failure, from the silent agony of loneliness or depression.  Those who are broken-hearted for whatever reason have their hearts pierced with a lance.  Those who strive to put on “the mind of Christ” and die to their old way of thinking wear the crown of thorns.  Those who are afflicted with temptations, humiliations or persecutions are scourged with whips and spat upon.  All who are overburdened with work, heavy-laden with sin, or simply overwhelmed with problems, financial or otherwise, carry their heavy cross up Calvary.  Many are trapped in pain with no way out.  They hang there with Christ Crucified on the cross and suffer a living death.  The shame, the pain, the humiliation, the fear of what may or may not be, all the unbearable suffering of fallen humanity is taken up into the passion and pain, the suffering and death, the crucifixion and cross of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  He knows all the sad sins of this whole miserable world and all their heavy consequences from the beginning of time until the last sin and crime that will be committed before the world ends!  He knows all of the souls who could care less that He paid such a terrible price for their redemption.  Down to the last drop of blood in His body, He gave His life and love for everybody that ever has been or will be created.  If only they could see His true love for them on the tree of Calvary, then they would be more grateful.  If only they would share their sorrows and their troubles, their problems and their pain with Jesus Christ Crucified, then they would come to know, by experience, how much God loves them.  They would be consoled in their heart and soul with “honey” from the tree.  Spiritual consolation would flow from Christ Crucified into their soul, as they died to their own sin and were freed from the evil one.  In sickness and suffering, in problems and pain, in failures and losses, in humiliation and shame, Jesus is there to help you carry your crosses, to carry you through a mystical death and crucifixion to a new life and spiritual resurrection.  You are not alone.  Our Lord knew the meaning of suffering His whole life through, right to the agony of the cross.  “I have a baptism to undergo, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!” (Luke 12:50)

 

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