Suffering is a vocation and all of us will be called to it. . . I certainly agree with Gladys and her friends Brendan and Carol Pereira! The stories come from the two of her friends, Brendan and Carol.
Truly one can say that suffering is a vocation. . .
The danger of death
The death of loved ones
The lack of children
Dryness of faith
The difficulty of seeing the wicked prosper
The consequence of wrong choices
At some stage of our life, we will taste suffering.
But as Monsignor Ambrose Vaz said at a funeral I (Brendan) attended in Singapore on Friday, while we can’t avoid suffering, we can choose to avoid misery.
He recalled that Nicholas Jayaram was visited by suffering, especially in the later years of his life when illness seemed to be a permanent companion. Yet, the 85-year-old soldiered on, happy to be alive to enjoy his family with whatever time he had left.
Nicholas Jayaram chose not to be miserable when his body was giving way.
I am blessed because I know quite a number of people like this man.
I know Karen. I can’t remember when she was diagnosed with cancer and I have lost count of the tests and scans she has been subjected to. I just know that she has endured far too much pain and suffering in the last few years but she counts her blessings. She thinks of the Passion of Christ and puts her life in perspective.
I know an Irishman called Felix Donohue. He is skin and bones these days, a shadow of a man who had such a commanding presence in school. A good day these days is spent in a normal ward and a bad day in the high dependency unit. But don’t expect any moaning from him. If anything, the wicked humour is too alive. When a former classmate introduced his teenage son to Bro Felix, the Irishman looked at him and quipped: ‘Are you sure he is your son?’
My former school principal knows that he is not in good shape but when you have had 86 years, every day is a blessing.
I know Jaclay. Two years ago, the airline lost his bag just before we started a nine-day walking pilgrimage in Spain. He completed the 220km trek in Crocs and borrowed clothes. And he was the most joyful person on the pilgrimage. People gravitate to him because he is a half glass full kind of person.
Nicholas, Karen, Bro Felix, Jaclay have all experienced difficulties, storms and suffering in their lives but their reaction to adversity has been measured.
I guess they were given the grace of God to understand that nothing changes for a Christian.
The God who is with us when things are going well is the same God who is with us after the tests results have come back or a loved one has passed on.
The Jesus who slept while the boat full of apostles rocked in the storm was the same Jesus who calmed the seas. In both situations, He had their back.
In both situations, He was their peace.
The people who choose not to be miserable even during the worst of times remind me that the essence of faith is truly believing that GOD IS WITH US.