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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Four Good Reasons

Not long ago HIA posted, “Preaching the Prosperity Gospel to the Homeless?” (see Thursday, January 3, 2008). The "Gospel of Prosperity," popular in America for decades now is the notion that God wants to bless the faithful with earthly riches and minimize suffering. On the surface, it’s a nice notion, but in reality not the life Jesus led or promised His followers. To the contrary, Jesus experienced suffering and so suffering is co-shared by His followers.

In yesterday’s Mass Gospel reading (Mark 3:1-6), Jesus enters a synagogue and meets a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees scrutinize Jesus’ every move to see if he will heal on the Sabbath. Jesus knew their judgemental and hardened hearts. He said …, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather destroy it?” They remained silent. Of course Jesus was not intimidated. He chose to do the good and so the man was healed. Immediately the Pharisees went out and took counsel with the Romans to put Jesus to death. It is here in this story we clearly discover that doing the good exposes Christians to suffering - not alleviate it.

No matter at work, at home, while serving the poor, helping the abandoned and the forgotten - when doing the good, we should not be surprised when we suffer undo scrutiny, criticism, rejection, anger and more when doing what is right. But that is good news!

Thus there are four good reasons to believe that our life in Christ is made more complete when we experience suffering for doing the good just like our Master who was also misunderstood, despised and rejected:

Reason #1: Jesus in His own words tells us …"You will be hated by all the nations" (Matthew 24:9, 14). In other words, no matter where you go - doing the right thing just like Jesus did, in His name - you will suffer.

Reason #2: Paul calls our following Christ the "filling up of what is lacking in Christ's afflictions" (Colossians 1:24). In other words, God's purpose is that the afflictions of Jesus that purchased our salvation be imitated and demonstrated in all true believers.

Reason #3: Jesus sent out the first Christians by saying, "As the Father has sent me, so send I you" (John 20:21). "If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household …" (Matthew 10:25).

Reason #4: A fourth reason is that Paul said to Timothy, "Take your share of suffering as a good soldier of Christ…" (2 Timothy 2:3). Paul also asserts, “But share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling...” (Timothy 1:8).

Welcome to the Kingdom of God!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"The more Jesus intends to raise a soul to perfection, the more he tries it by suffering. So rejoice, I say to you, in seeing yourself so privileged, in spite of your unworthiness. The more you are afflicted, the more you ought to rejoice, because in the fire of tribulation the soul will become pure gold, worthy to be placed and shine in the heavenly palace." - Padre Pio