Sometimes I get the suspicion that “Offer It Up” is Catholic code for “Get Over It”. Stubbed your toe? Offer it up. Got a mean teacher? Offer it up. Lost your job? Offer it up. Miscarriage…
The concept is great. In joining our sufferings with our Lord Jesus Christ’s we have an opportunity to collaborate with Him in salvific history (Col 1:24). Wow. We yoke ourselves to our suffering King and help to win Him an inheritance of saints in doing so. The only problem I have with those words being lobbed around though is that I think we may lose the point if we say them too flippantly. The point is that Christ yokes Himself with those who suffer…and we are called to do the same.
In the book of Romans, St. Paul exhorts us:
“Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep.” Rom 12:15 (Douay Rheims)
As those who are marked by the name of Christ we are bound to weep with those who weep. It is one thing to tell someone to suffer well and another to suffer with them. In choosing to take this road less traveled we participate in God’s grace as we exude and reveal the love of Christ. One passage in particular makes me think of Christ in this context:
“And seeing the multitudes, he had compassion on them: because they were distressed, and lying like sheep that have no shepherd. Then he saith to his disciples, The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his harvest.” Matt 9:36-38 (Douay Rheims)
Jesus firstly SAW the multitudes. Before I am able to weep with my brother I have to be able to see him. That in itself is profound. Jesus doesn’t just see us though. Everyone knows that Christ sees all…but do we all know that he has compassion on us. The word compassion means to suffer with. Mind blowing right? The King of Glory, who has been content within Himself from eternity past, chooses to suffer with us. He exhorts us to pray to the Lord of the Harvest and in doing so identifies God not as the Lord of the Strong, but as the Lord of the distressed….the Lord of the sheep with no shepherd. And what are we praying for? That our compassionate Savior would send out individuals with His heart into this aching multitude.
As people it is easy to identify ourselves with the confident. Who doesn’t enjoy spending time with friends and leaders who seem to be joyful and strong? As children of God though, we are invited to identify ourselves with the hurting. Catholics can enjoy God’s love as those who are moved with compassion with Him. We are called to suffer with our neighbor. We are called to weep with those who weep.
Why don’t we weep with those who weep? I think, and comment if you have more ideas, that we can boil it down to a few micro-reasons and one macro-reason. The micro-reasons? We don’t see people’s suffering, we would rather be experts and exhorters than those who suffer, we are afraid to hurt, or perhaps we naively think it is more pleasing to God to avoid others who suffer in order to preserve our own sanctity. The macro-reason…we do not love.
Our love for God is ultimately reflected in our love for our neighbor:
“My dearest, if God hath so loved us; we also ought to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abideth in us, and his charity is perfected in us.” 1 Jn 4:11-12 (Douay Rheims)
Suffering is a type of solitude and when we join our friends, family, and even enemies in desolate places we find our King in the wilderness of Gethsemane. I know it’s hard but…offer it up!
::Alex Weber is married to an amazing woman with four daughters and a son (whoot). He is a full time college student and a web developer. Alex is also the founder and administrator of a Catholic liturgical blog called Pray The Mass. He enjoys scripture, strumm’n the guitar, laughing with his family, and food…way too much.::