Because Love is radical and not practical, it often involves suffering. This is why Jesus rebuked St. Peter when he suggested that Jesus should not suffer and die for us: “Get behind me Satan!” (Matt 16:23) Not that Peter is Satan, but that Peter was thinking in line with the desires of Satan and God-less men – that we not be saved by the Lord’s Sacrifice. Yes, in the divine life, love and sacrifice, and therefore suffering, often go together.
If we look down upon suffering for or with Christ for His sake and ours, then we are not worthy of Christ. For the Lord Himself clearly said: “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”(Lk 14:27)
If we do not understand this, then we are like strangers who follow a strange “Prosperity Gospel” which selfishly seeks pleasure and avoids suffering (of true love) which diminishes that pleasure, and we may very well be met with this rebuke from the Lord Himself one day:
“Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’”(Mk 7:21-23)
There is little excuse for our ignorance. We have all of the resources available to us today in order to know the Lord – that is – to hear and do His will.
Let us ask ourselves: Does love inconvenience us? Do we love grudgingly? What is our habit? Do we choose not to respond to the inspirations to love when it requires some sacrifice? Do we calculate the cost? If God is Love, and if love is selfless, are we compatible with Him?
Well, we can not be God in our finitude. But we most certainly can be grateful to Him for His own sake. Our response to Him can be gratitude, even in the midst of suffering – a gratitude worthy of His infinite love – a gratitude which does not complain, but sees the riches of mercy He bestows upon us in all of the goods around us, and then responds with giving back in some way.
If we overflow with God’s love, then let us be instruments of love for those around us. If we are in truth branches on the life-giving Vine, let us bear fruit that is sweet and which lasts.
Yes, let us seek to know the Lord, His thoughts, and not our own thoughts, that we may know true Love, be thankful for true Love, and respond with love out of the joy of our gratitude, but not out of the misery of our selfish ingratitude, the ingratitude of the thoughts of men who do not know God.