May 28, 2017 - Suffering

Beloved:
Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ,
so that when his glory is revealed
you may also rejoice exultantly.
If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you,
for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
But let no one among you be made to suffer
as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer.
But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed
but glorify God because of the name.

1 Peter 4:13-16 (Second Reading)

At first glance, this looks like the worst fluff.  ‘Suffer for faith and you will be rewarded in heaven.’  But notice that the author doesn’t say that at all.  If you suffer, he says, you can “rejoice exultantly,” the Spirit of glory and God will rest on you, and you will be “blessed”.  It doesn’t sound like suffering is rewarded in any but the most ephemeral ways.

In the passage immediately preceding this week’s Gospel, Jesus predicts that he will be left alone to suffer his fate:

Behold, the time is coming, yes, and has now come, that you will be scattered, everyone to his own place, and you will leave me alone. 

But he will take comfort in the knowledge that God is with him:

Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you these things, that in me you may have peace. (John 16:32-33)

Faith is not a good luck charm or a promise of divine intervention.  Faith is the belief that you are never really alone.  That provide more peace than any intervention. God is taking the advice of palliative care pioneer, Elisabeth K├╝bler Ross: “Don’t just do something, stand there.”