Everyone suffers. Whether it is physical pain, emotional distress, headache or heartache, we all have bouts with pain. Sometimes our suffering and pain seem like such a waste. Meaningless. Worthless. Some ask, “Why am I going through this?”
Did Jesus suffer in vain? Was his pain meaningless? Of course not. It was most important for the salvation of the world.
That’s where baptism comes in. During this Easter season, new members are baptized and all of us renew our baptismal promises. We celebrate that we are baptized into Christ. We are members of his body. We are one with him.
That means that whenever we suffer, Christ suffers. Our pain is his pain. Our suffering is his suffering. And he doesn’t suffer in vain. United with him, our suffering has meaning and purpose, even though we may never know how. We share in the saving work of the Lord.
If our suffering and pain have meaning because baptism unites us with Christ’s Passion, then our acts of service have meaning because baptism also unites us with the risen Lord.
St. Paul said, “If we have grown in union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection” (Romans 6:5).
Jesus said, “I come not to be served but to serve.” (Cf. Mark 10:45) How does the risen and ascended Lord serve? Through us.
St. Teresa of Avila said, “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours.Yours are the eye through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.
…you are his body.”
By baptism we are raised up into newness of life.
We are baptized into the sufferings of the crucified Christ.
We are baptized into the service of the risen Christ.
We are baptized into a life with eternal meaning.
We are baptized into love.
How meaningful is our life because of baptism! How blessed are we because of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection! Come, let us recommit ourselves to him and renew our baptismal promises – with all our might.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/