Daily Reflection

From a Creighton Student's Perspective

March 13, 2011

Damian Olsen

1st Year Medical Student

Gn 2:7-9; 3:1-7
Ps 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 17
Rom 5:12-19 or 5:12, 17-19
Mt 4:1-11

As we begin Lent, a season of repentance and suffering, it is important to reflect upon the meaning of our suffering. Everyone experiences suffering in their lives; it is as common and necessary as the air we breathe. People drink from the bitter cup of suffering in varying amounts and to different degrees. Some are burdened with great physical suffering and pain that follows them all through life. Others have anguish and anxiety in their mind that they cannot seem to overcome. Regardless of who we are and the bodies and minds we are endowed with, we will taste suffering in this life.
While all would agree that this world would be a better place without suffering, the reality of suffering can be made positive. It is very appropriate that today, the first Sunday in Lent, we see the root and cause of all of our suffering brought into the world in the first reading. Adam and Eve were in perfect union with our Lord, they were living in a paradise with peace that none of us will ever know on earth. Through their temptation and fall, all evil and disorder was brought into our lives. It is now our choice of what to do with this suffering and pain that is a reality to us all.

In a semester abroad I was able to take a Philosophy of the Human Person course that opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking. We discussed an amazing book, Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. Throughout our discussions my professor kept repeating ‘suffering unleashes love’ which is rooted in Blessed John Paul II and his teachings on human suffering. We unfolded this statement and applied it to Christ and our lives. In this very fruitful class we discussed how if Christ was to stop suffering through his passion, he would have stopped loving. Christ was earning our redemption through the suffering he experienced on the way to Calvary. It is in following Christ in this way that we are able to find meaning in our suffering. He is the person we are all striving to be, so to imitate him in his suffering (and all things) is to be most fully human and alive.

Through Lent we are following Christ on his journey towards the salvation of mankind. We offer up things we enjoy or add to our prayer lives to enter into Christ’s suffering, to become more like him. In this a greater love than any other is made real as our suffering unleashes love and draws us closer to Jesus. We are able to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, to submit our will and desires to Christ.

Through the woman Eve, the man Adam, and the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, sin entered the world. Through the woman Mary, the man Jesus Christ, and the tree of his Holy Cross on Calvary, salvation was brought to all. The second reading today so eloquently reminds us of this truth. With his own Precious Blood, Jesus purchased for all freedom from the chains of sin bound tightly around all humanity through Adam and Eve.

We may be tempted by Satan in this difficult season to give up on our Lenten penances and prayers. Our human nature is weak, which we see in the fall of Adam and Eve in the first reading today. However, our sacrifices will be rewarded in heaven in proportion to the suffering we endure in Christ’s name. By uniting our struggles with his, we can make present redemptive love. In today’s Gospel we find yet another way that Christ entered into our humanity through his temptation in the desert. He gives us a strong model to follow, as in all that he does. It is important to notice how Satan even uses scripture in tempting Jesus, attempting to twist God’s own Holy Word against him. We must be ever vigilant to discern when even the greatest goods in this world are used against us. 

During this season of great spiritual growth, may we all try to appreciate the true value of our suffering. May we pray more fervently that we can offer it to Christ and in so doing enter into his passion. Our salvation has been won for us in the perfect life of Jesus; in him we can do all things. Let us follow his example in temptation, especially as we offer penance for our sins, so that our suffering may unleash his love in us.

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