16th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C, July 2022.

The correct attitude towards actual suffering; the unavoidable bodily pain or physical affliction opens the person to the possibility of receiving a share in the cross of Jesus. In his reflections on the paularian identity and image a Christian, Fr. Bialas CP says that whoever desires to be crucified with Christ has got the hermeneutical key or a pragmatic formula for unlocking Paul of the Cross’ sapiential spiritual thought. The participation and imitation of Christ through physical pain has a purifying function that ultimately assists an individual Christian on his journey towards God. Paul of the Cross surpasses this physical reality of pain to something more. Sapiential version of the cross that our founder spiritually and theologically taught is keen to the fact that, it is not the pain but the love that leads a person to his union with God, and it is the same love that bears the pain. Nonetheless, we have to begin from the physical reality of sharing in Christ’s pains. This thought process is reflected in bits in the readings of today:
1. I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake-2nd reading
2. In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body the church-2nd reading
3. ..bringing forth fruits with patience-Alleluia verse
4. ..distracted with much serving-Gospel
5. …has left me to serve alone-Gospel
6. ..Anxious and troubled about many things-Gospel.
In the first reading, the mannerisms and the handling of the three men by Abraham shows a certain level of grace-filled honor and service with fear and trembling to the Unknown men. Abraham said, my Lord allow me to..etc., it was a service at their feet, a service at the feet of a mystery. A service imbued with much fear, passion and trembling before a holy presence. (Pope emeritus, Benedict the 16th), the then Cardinal Ratzinger, while reflecting on the spiritual literary works and letters of St. Paul of the Cross said that, “Paul Danei saw the cross of Jesus in his fears, sadness, worries and temptations.” In fact, sometimes fear of the unknown, impending failure, stressful attitude of doing it alone while others receive undeserved favours up to including not being successful in the very thing you are apparently doing. Paul of the cross believed that the original image of a Christian is made real in sharing in the suffering of the crucified God. This mystery of the cross, crucified Lord, is hidden for ages and generations, and is presented today in the image of three men visiting Abraham in the heat of the sun. A discerning spirit, the sapiential eyes of a Passionist: Abraham knew that he had to serve this mysterious face of a personality chocked by the pressures of the hot temperatures of the day. A God visiting in the condition of men.
The wisdom is to serve patiently at the feet of the crucified. This service with holy patience and proper attitude heals our barrenness, heals our sick family members, heals our fruitlessness as a congregation. Serving the crucified faithfully as is done in Abrahamic style award the unseen graces that heal the barren wombs like Sarah’s. The tormenting physical involvement in doing the right thing before the crucified and suffering Christ, present to us, in the manner that God showed his face through crucified three men of that time, and through the crucified ones of today. heals the barren womb of my Sarah, my sister, my mother, my close relation burdened with the shame of barrenness. Yet the initiative is God’s.
This is why St. Paul of the cross refers to such like pains as infused suffering (tormenti infusi). It is this grace that has always assured me, from the writings of Paul of the cross, that our relevance in the Church will never get distorted. If we fail to tap the spirit of the congregation, then God will infuse it through the little crosses that he puts before us in the congregation. In our life as Passionist’s, the invitation is to begin with an attitude ready to suffer, supported by both exterior and interiorly infused pains(suffering) which finally manifest in our life in the practice of virtues.
My flesh is incorporated in this journey. I transit from the external pain to the interior pain of contemplating the mystery of Christ’s cross in my life. This is how I fulfil in the body of Christ what is a lack, by holding patiently in honesty and good heart, I overcome the pain of feeling distracted by much serving or the pain of being left alone. I am assured that transiting from the physical sufferings to the interior ones, from being alone to unity with Christ crucified, I come to the realization that I have chosen the best. It is a transition from anxiety and troubles of many things, to doing only the NEEDFUL which shall not be take away from me.
Luke CP