Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
(Hebrews 2:5-12; Mark 1:21-28)
Suffering is ambivalent. It breaks some. They become bitter, insensitive, and wicked. It ennobles others. Under proper tutelage suffering strengthens many to resist evil, sensitizes them to others’ pain, and moves them to call upon God. During the great depression the experience of want catalyzed stinginess in some and sharing in others. Today’s first reading claims that Jesus was perfected through suffering.
The author of the letter has Jesus’ passion and death in mind. Crucifixion has been called the severest of tortures. Jesus’ torment was magnified by anticipation of the pain. Knowing that he would suffer for others did not necessarily lighten the load. When Jesus looked on his disciples sleeping in the garden, he might have wondered if his ordeal was worth it. To his advantage, however, Jesus had the Holy Spirit as his guide. The Spirit turned the evil of the disciples into Jesus’ springboard of generosity.
The Holy Spirit, who is God, will use secondary causes to achieve its ends. We might attribute growth in suffering to the example of parents or the wisdom of a friend. But ultimately it is the Spirit who brings about good. We should pray to the Holy Spirit when we cope with suffering with a trial. The Spirit will arrange that the suffering accrue to our benefit.