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Why Must I suffer ? by Rev Robert Nash, S.J (Wednesday blog)

Our Divine Lord had a marked liking for suffering. What took place in the last week of his life was only the climax to a positive devotion to the Cross which He had clearly evinced during the years proceeding. That a course of action was painful, or humiliating, or toilsome, or self denying, always seemed, somehow,  to be a reason for Him to accept it, or if He could not, to allow it to escape from His hands only with the regret one feels on parting with a treasure. 

Why did Our Lord choose suffering? 

This is the more surprising when we remember that strictly speaking, suffering was not necessary at all for the fulfillment of His mission. He had come to break man's chains, to set him free from the thraldom of sin. The task lying before Him was to unbar the gates of heaven and secure that they should swing wide open. Then man, redeemed by Christ's merits, might once again have the glorious opportunity of possessing the God for whom his heart hungers. But Our Lord need not have chosen to suffer in order to see that plan of love realised. He was God, equal in all things to His Eternal Father. Hence, had He so willed, He might have come amongst us, not for 33 years, but only for a very short period - for a year or a month, or even for a few moments - and during that time He might have offered to His Father, in reparation for our sins, one single prayer, one single sigh, or one single drop of His Precious Blood. Such an offering made by Him, who is infinite in dignity would have been more than amply sufficient to redeem not only this world, but countless other worlds besides which might ever be created. Why then go out of His way to suffer? It is not easy to understand. 

Then there is His apparently unintelligible treatment of his friends. You would say that His aim is to secure that at all costs they, too, shall have an abundance of suffering. His Mother, who undoubtedly held a place quite unique in the love of His Sacred Heart, was like him, crushed and bruised and ground into the earth by by a load of suffering. In the temple, holy Simeon placed Him in her arms - he was only an infant then - and told her to prepare for a sword of suffering. On Calvary they bought Him to her once more  - this time He was dead - and she takes His hand into her hand, and a shudder passes through her frame as she feels the ugly hole made by the nail. She removes the thorns from His head. She looks into His face twisted out of recognition by suffering. The prophecy has indeed been fulfilled. All during those years since she received Him back from Simeon in the Temple, Mary has lived under the shadow of the cross. "Thine own soul a sword shall pierce" (Luke 2:35). That he loved her nobody could doubt. That he could have spared her this suffering, or at least much of it, is beyond question. Yet He did not spare her. On the contrary, on nobody else did He heap such sorrows. It seems hard to understand. 

Coming now to his saints, those special friends of Christ, we find that they, too, were subjected to trials the most diverse and the most painful. To some where given many long years of physical torture which kept them nailed to the cross. Others were victims of mental anguish - racked with scruples, abandoned by friends, humiliated by the disgrace of someone dear to them, contradicted, not trusted, misunderstood. Want and dire poverty, incessant labour, hunger and even starvation - open the pages of the stories of his friends and see how often Christ has sent these things into their lives. And yet He loved them dearly. And yet He could have had things so differently for them. 

A strange way this, it would seem, to treat men who loved Him and by whom He was passionately loved. He could have given them abundance of wealth, but He sees to it that often they have not even the necessities of life. He could have secured for them ease and comfort, but He sends them toil and poverty. Health is his gift to bestow, but He crucifies them on a bed of pain. Did He so ordain, men would hold his friends in esteem and lift them up to the highest pinnacle of glory, but He will have them trampled upon and despised. Yet he loves them dearly. It seems difficult to understand. There must be, in suffering lovingly borne, some wonderful power, some precious treasure, seeing that it comes with such consistency into the lives of Christ and His friends. Admittedly it is a treasure that is hidden, but can we go at least a little way below the surface and discover some of its beauty and unravel some of its mysteries.