Carrying Our Neighbor’s Cross

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At times, it is inevitable that we will face sufferings and challenges that are not of our own making. These are the struggles that come from illness, unexpected events or the choices of those around us over which we may have no control. Such situations are painful and challenging in part because we are reminded that we do not have full control over our lives and we must rely upon the mercy and love of God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Such trust is at the heart of transforming such experiences of sufferings into moments of intense grace.

However, there are also moments in discipleship when we can choose to take on suffering for the sake of another person. Such moments provide us with opportunities to show heroic witness to our faith. They allow Christ’s love to pierce through any difficulty or challenge. These are the moments in which true holiness can be deepened in you and me.

Last night I witnessed such a voluntary acceptance of suffering when we were finishing our dinner. One of the pilgrims lost her balance and fell backward as she got up from the table, hitting her head against a ceramic bucket. Needless to say, she was badly hurt and taken to the hospital for treatment and observation, given her age and wound. One of the other pilgrims decided to go to the hospital and stayed with her all night long- a sacrifice that cost dearly, especially after a long day’s journey and the effects of jet lag. However, the sacrifice and suffering offered by one pilgrim allowed the grace of the Lord’s love and mercy to touch the heart of the woman who was hurt in ways that only such self-sacrifice could effect. It was a moment that made the power of the Cross real for anyone to see.

In a world that tells us to avoid all sacrifice and suffering, last night we were reminded of the healing that comes through someone who chooses to take up their cross for the sake of their neighbor.

The previous reflection originally appeared on Bishop Frank Caggiano’s Facebook page. Follow the Bishop for daily reflections and weekly videos!