Updated: Jan 24, 2021
How can we participate in the sufferings of Christ? We can participate in the cross of Jesus mainly through REPST. What is REPST? R= Responsibilities, E= Evangelization works, P= Persecution, S= Self-denial and sanctification, T = Temptations. All pain, tensions, sufferings, inconveniences, discomfort, financial lose and so on account of fulfilling your responsibilities, doing works of evangelization, persecution on account of your faith and self-denial for self-sanctification by entering into the narrow gate are considered as the cross of Jesus, that we carry everyday for the salvation of the world and all humanity. Rest of our sufferings due to mental or physical sickness, poverty, exploitation, deprivations and so on are not considered as the cross of Jesus. They are not at all God given, but God allowed, sufferings according to the magisterial teachings in CCC 2448, CCCC 57,58 and if it is allowed by God, God has made remedies too. Let us analyze these points in details.
What is the Cross of Jesus?
According to CCC 618, Jesus carried the cross to forgive the sins, heal the sick, cast out demons, to give the Holy Spirit, eternal life etc. Mother Mary and Simon carried the cross of Jesus by helping Jesus to accomplish his mission. These two persons are some of the best examples of carrying the cross of Jesus. But Mary and Simon were not bedridden with any of the diseases just to cooperate with the suffering or cross of Jesus. But they were healthy and hail while they carried the cross of Jesus. This shows that carrying the cross means just to cooperate with Jesus, right now, to fulfil the saving mission of Jesus such as salvation of souls, redemption of humanity, healing, deliverance etc for all. The purpose of the cross of Jesus is for the salvation of souls, healing, redemption, deliverance and so on for all human beings.
How can we participate in the cross of Jesus?
All those who deny their personal comfort, assets, material gain but preaching the word of God through media and other means, conducting healing services and working in the hospitals, doing social work, giving education to all, engaging themselves in deliverance ministry and conducting anointing sessions and so on are continuing the mission of Jesus. Through which they carry the cross of Jesus. Jesus carried the cross for the salvation of the world. Therefore, whoever carries the cross of Jesus, stands for the salvation and redemption of the world.
Meaning of Carrying the Daily Cross - Mt. 16:24
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mt. 16:24). Jesus calls us to deny our own concept and ideas and live a life according to the concepts and ideas given by Jesus. Self denial means denying one’s own concepts and ideas that one cherishes in the heart as something precious. Carrying the cross means take up the mission of Jesus and execute it even while facing adverse situations. The mission of Jesus includes four elements in it: First proclamation of the kingdom of God, Secondly healing of all the sick, thirdly casting out demons and lastly empowering the people with the power of the Holy Spirit. All those who are in the ministry of proclamation, deliverance, healing and anointing are daily carrying the cross of Jesus.
Is sickness and poverty considered as cross of Jesus? Not at all?
CCC 2448 "In its various forms - material deprivation, unjust oppression, physical and psychological illness and death - human misery is the obvious sign of the inherited condition of frailty and need for salvation in which man finds himself as a consequence of original sin. This misery elicited the compassion of Christ the Saviour, who willingly took it upon himself and identified himself with the least of his brethren...". This magisterial teaching shows that poverty, psychic illness, physical diseases, persecutions, exploitations etc are not a gift from God. It is considered as bondage which is inherited through the sin of Adam and Eve. Jesus has already taken these elements in to his body and set the humanity free from these bondages.
Jesus considered sickness as bondage
St. Luke 13:11-17 – Jesus met a crippled woman in the Synagogue. Jesus never asked the synagogue authorities to begin a rehab centre to keep her inside and similar people, instead Jesus said, “This daughter of Abraham was in bondage for 18 years. Am I not to set her free”. Jesus called her and healed and sent her back. The synagogue authority didn’t like it. Therefore, Jesus instructed him, sickness is not a precious gift from God but it is a bondage from where people are to be freed. By the same reason Jesus has commanded his disciples “Heal the sick…” that means you must heal the sick (Mt. 10:8) and he called them and to send them out with authority to heal the sick (Mt. 10:1).
A Historical Event in the Old Testament
Around 40 years Jewish people were in the desert. None of them were in sickness nor in want - Then He brought Israel with silver and gold, and there was no one among their tribes was in sickness (Psalm 105:37). The reason of this prosperity and the absence of infirmity is because of fire and cloud above them. Fire and cloud are the symbols of Holy Spirit. They were moving under the cloud and fire. When the people are anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of the poverty, sickness, exploitation etc will be cancelled.
Paralyzed man is healed in Nasik, Maharashtra
One Hindu man who was paralyzed for many years came in Nasik where I was preaching the word of God. This programme was organized by Dr. Maxin D’silva in the year 1997. The Holy Spirit descended up on him while I was preaching. He got the power to walk. The name of the village is Devalali, in Nasik, where I was preaching. This man who was paralyzed for many years was healed completely. Now there is a church constructed in that place under the jurisdiction of the diocese of Kalyan, in Maharashtra. Sick are healed when the Holy Spirit overshadows upon the people. Impossible things will become possible through the overshadowing of the holy spirit ( LK.1:37).
Pope Francis said, ‘The problem of evil in this world is not from God. It is from Satan. God has sown only good seeds in this world but Satan, God’s enemy, has sown weeds. Therefore, God is no way the cause of the evil in this world’, (Mt. 13:24-30, 36-43). When Pope Francis explained this parable he has mentioned that the good and evil will coexist till the second coming of Jesus. We should have prudence and wisdom to understand what is from God and what is from Satan? (L’osservatore Romano, Number 30, Friday, 25 July 2014, p. 3).
When the Council Fathers discussed about the pain, suffering, evil, etc in this world they found that it is not from God. It is from the evil one. In this situation people found difficulty to come out of it. They are in need of Grace to come out of this predicament (GS 13). This magisterial teaching is reflected in CCCc 57 and 58 here we read ‘...God is no way directly or indirectly the cause of evil or suffering in this world... but God allowed it to bring something good out of it…’(312).
There are personal opinions and viewpoints regarding sickness, mental retardation, calamities, poverty, exploitation, deprivations etc are precious gift of God. This concept is not matching the teaching of Jesus and the magisterial teaching of the Church. Each one is judged according to their own words (Mt.12:37). All the human words are the fruits of the deliberation of the heart. According to their thinking they speak, according to their speech they will be judged. There is no chance to pray to God and ask God to make a change in your sufferings if you think that above mentioned lists of sufferings are precious gifts of God and as part of God’s plan. Instead if you think and believe that God has a plan in your sufferings that means God has a plan to change them for your favour, then all your sufferings will be turned for your favour (Rom.8:28). Let us deny our concepts and take up the concept of Jesus and continue the mission and try to fulfil the words of Christ - “Deny yourself, take up the daily cross and follow me”.