From curse to cure

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

THAT very inhuman martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, beheaded just as a reward to a dancing girl, (cfr. Mk 6,14-29) clearly tells us that martyrdom caused by a most crazy reason is a possibility in our life. We should be ready to suffer and die, knowing how to derive something good from evil and how to turn a curse into a cure.

And the secret again is to suffer and die with Christ. If we believe in Christ and follow what he has taught and shown us, we will realize that there is nothing to be afraid of suffering and death, and all the other negative things that can mark our life.

He bore them himself and converted them into our way for our own salvation. Yes, even death which is the ultimate evil that can befall us, an evil that is humanly insoluble. With Christ’s death, the curse of death has been removed. “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15,54-55)

So, we just have to be sport and cool about the whole reality of suffering and death. What we need to do is to follow Christ in his attitude toward them. For Christ, embracing suffering and ultimately death, is the expression of his greatest love for us. We have to enter into the dynamic of this divine logic and wisdom so we can lose that fear of suffering and death.

We have to be ready for these situations, and these verses from St. Peter’s first letter spell out for us how to be so. They are in the second chapter, and they go as follows (19-25):

“For one is approved if, mindful of God, he endures pain while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God’s approval.

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin. No guile was found on his lips. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return. When he suffered, he did not threaten, but he trusted him who judges justly.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”

I believe it’s truly worthwhile to reflect on these words slowly and repeatedly, so we can have clear ideas why it’s also worthwhile when instances of unjust suffering and death come to us. We can find meaning, and even joy and peace, when these occasions occur.

A person who is truly a man of God would have no enemies, because everyone would be an object of his love. He prefers to suffer when mistreated, and that suffering becomes the very expression of his love.

It’s a love that goes above the standards and criteria of human justice. It’s a love that is pegged on a higher plane, the supernatural plane of God’s boundless love. It’s a love that as St. Paul would put it: “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor 13,7)