A reading from the gospel according to Luke 9:22-25:
22 Jesus said to his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
23 Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
25 What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?”
Reflection: Suffering, Death and Resurrection
If somebody who is close to us will suddenly blurt out that he is going to suffer and die, most probably our reaction would be like Peter who tried to stop Jesus for his impending death. No one likes to suffer and no one likes to die at a very young age. Yet we hear Jesus embracing His own suffering and death.
Let us read again very closely the gospel reading above. First He tells us about His rejection, suffering, and resurrection. Then immediately He also tells us that if we wish to follow Him, we must deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily. This is leadership by example. He does not tell us to do something that He Himself cannot do. In other words, we must not be afraid to suffer and to carry our own cross because our Lord had already done it.
Life is indeed full of suffering. Even other religions particularly Buddhism acknowledge this truth. Jesus never told us that following Him is a bed of roses nor without any problem. In fact, the bible offers a lot of verses that mention about readiness for opposition, hatred and persecutions if we follow Jesus (John 15:19–20, Matthew 5:10–12, Revelation 2:10–11). What He promised was that He will be with us until the end of time (Matthew 28:20).
Suffering and losing our lives for the sake of Jesus is not lost in the book of life. That is why even Saint Teresa of Avila believed that suffering can be a source of purification. When we offer our heartaches, brokenness and the other problems we face every day in union with the cross at Calvary, we are also united with Jesus in His resurrection and more so in the work of salvation.
Indeed, no amount of money will ever buy us a ticket to heaven. Work hard we must to achieve our dreams but we must never exchange eternal life for earthly achievement.