Saturday, August 30, 2008



21 From that time, Jesus began to show His Disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up. 22 Peter took Him aside, and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from you, Lord! This will never be done to you." 23 But He turned, and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men."

24 Then Jesus said to His Disciples, "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his life. Or what will a man give in exchange for his life? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His Angels, and then He will render to everyone according to His deeds." (Mat 16:21-27)

Suffering is an inevitable part of the human condition and integral part of being human. There are no important achievements without effort, pain and sacrifice. This applies in a special way to love and commitment, the cost of discipleship, the following of Christ. The cost of discipleship involves a dying to oneself, which is inescapable if one wants to become a new creature in Christ.

There are two kinds of suffering: the necessary suffering and the unnecessary suffering. The unnecessary suffering is the suffering we impose on others by our selfishness.

Much sufferings in this world are unnecessary and man-made like the simple misuse of human freedom and choices.
Far too often we blame God for the consequent sufferings of this misuse of human freedom.

On the other hand, there is the necessary suffering which refers to the suffering involved in growing up, in facing the limitations, in admitting our mistakes, in struggling with a problem, in sharing someone else's suffering, in shouldering a normal responsibility, in accepting reality, in giving up a harmful habit, etc.

The first degree of wisdom consists of understanding the difference between these two kinds of suffering. The second degree of wisdom consists in avoiding the first and embracing the second.

In this week's Gospel, Jesus is speaking of the necessary suffering involved in His own destiny and in the life of anybody who wants to live humanly - that is, who accepts to "lose his life" - in order to find it, to know fulfillment and happiness.

Of course it is not easy. Even Jesus, the Son of God, recoiled at the thought of drinking the cup of suffering that had been poured out for Him. However, Jesus promises that if we pick up our cross and follow in His footsteps, He will lead us to life. And the life Jesus promises is not only life eternal in the next world but also life, right now, in this world.

Honestly ask yourself what is most important to you? Is it this earthly material life or the eternal afterlife?

God bless you!

Fr. Ben Sim
Parish Priest
Cebu City, Philippines