"Poor me! Why does everything always happen to me? Why does God allow this? Why am I going through all this pain? Ain’t it awful. Why me?"
Have you ever felt sorry for yourself? Of course you have. We all have. We often get upset and angry when we endure physical ailments, financial setbacks, failures in school or work, heartaches, whatever.
And it is okay to cry for ourselves – for a while. The key is not to wallow in it. I suggest no more than a half hour a week of feeling sorry for ourselves. If we must talk to someone about it, talk to mother or a priest. They have to listen. That’s part of their job. But again, no more than half an hour. We should be careful not to burden our friends or coworkers with our problems. They will start to avoid us.
Whenever we think our crosses are heavier than usual, it’s good to reread Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, verses 23 to 30. There he relates how he was imprisoned, endured countless beatings "often near death", was beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked, in dangers from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from the sea, danger from false brethren, often without food, in cold and exposure, etc., etc.
Needless to say, Paul expected suffering. In today’s first reading from Acts, he tells his disciples "we must undergo many trials if we are to enter into the reign of God." In his letter to the Philippians Paul speaks of his fellowship in the sufferings of Christ and knowing the "power of his resurrection." (cf. Philippians 3:10)
Whether we have crosses from accidents and mishaps, crosses from another’s meanness, crosses that result from self-giving, or the crosses of aging, Jesus tells us today, "Do not be distressed or fearful." He is with us. We are baptized into his body. Our pain is his pain. And he does not suffer in vain. We are privileged to share in the redemptive work of Christ.
"If we have died with Christ we believe that we shall also live with him." (Romans 6:8) People will know we are Christians by our dying and rising.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/