The beauty of suffering PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 08 February 2016 13:29

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

We need to expand our understanding and appreciation of beauty. If by beauty we mean only the physical beauty of a scenic landscape, the romantic hue of a sunset, or a Miss Universe, then we are missing not only a lot of things but also the one thing that is most necessary to us.

There is beauty in persons, things and situations that otherwise are regarded as unbeautiful or ugly if seen only in the physical or strictly human and natural level. It is the beauty that comes straight from God who offered his son on the cross as a ransom for our salvation.

During the opening and the concluding Masses of the IEC, I noticed that one of the readers was a blind woman. I was so impressed by the way she read with her hands touching what I imagine was the Braille form of the reading, that I immediately was convinced she was a very beautiful woman, a very beautiful soul.

We need to expand our understanding and appreciation of beauty by including the most important element of beauty. And that is the love for God, and because of that love, it is also the love for others.

In that particular case of the blind readers during those IEC Masses, I was impressed that they did not look like having some inferiority complex. In fact, they stood tall with heads erect as they read in a way so becoming of a child of God, oozing with confidence and their pronunciation perfect.

If we truly love God, then we should reflect his love and his attributes that can only be described, in the least, as beautiful.

If out of his love for us, he sent his Son to us, and the Son had to become man and to suffer death on the cross, then we can say that there must be beauty in suffering and in death.

We need to understand and appreciate beauty from the point of view of our faith, more than simply from the point of view of our senses and our intelligence. To be sure, our faith does not reject the

standards of beauty that go along the lines of the senses and the intelligence, but it goes beyond them.

That’s why we have to learn to be quick to discern the elements of beauty in what otherwise are considered as ugly when seen in purely human terms. Physical pains, sicknesses, problems, difficulties, deaths, etc., while truly unattractive and worthy of avoidance, can possess a certain beauty if seen with the eyes of faith.

These humanly ugly things can give us the chance, a privilege actually, to identify ourselves most intimately with

Christ’s passion and death which is the best expression of God’s love for us. They become the occasions to make ourselves Christ-like.

With faith, we can even resemble Christ’s eagerness to meet his death because we all know that such death can only mean one The beauty

of suffering hing—our redemption, our purification, and our way toward our ultimate glorification as children of God.

If we manage to understand and appreciate beauty in this way, there is nothing that can make us ugly. Even our physical deformities and deficiencies, even our moral errors and blunders can convey a distinctive brand of beauty if borne with faith in Christ.

Let’s remember that if God allows us to suffer some deformities or to experience some mistakes and commit sins, it is because he can derive a greater good from them. He wants us to learn a virtue or to grow more in our faith, hope and love for him and for everybody else.

We should try our best, with God’s grace which he actually gives us in abundance, to go beyond the level of the sensible and the intelligible, and enter into the all-beautiful world of our faith where the humanly ugly things are converted into divinely beautiful realities.

Let’s not be afraid of suffering then. We just have to learn to suffer the way Christ himself suffered. Not only has he given us the way to do it, but also the very power to suffer with him.

I remember Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI  one time saying that while God is good and cannot will evil, he sometimes allows his children to be tried through suffering to lead them to a greater good.

This truth should be at the core of our beliefs. With it, everything will be beautiful. Nothing would be ugly, and could take away our peace. Our joy and optimism would become stable. And we would be more empowered to do good things.