As Christians we all share a common gift that comes to us from God and is meant to console us, unite us and reassure us that this world of suffering and pain will not triumph. That gift is the love of Christ in the Holy Spirit.
When Christ ascended into heaven He did not say good bye, He said, “I will be with you, even to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).
When a loved ones leave this earth we feel the pain.
But we also know the consolation that their love and memory remain with us. Dr. Rogério Brandão relates the story of a faith-filled 11-year-old girl who died of cancer.
She recalls how her “little angel” was exhausted by two years of injections, chemical treatment programs and radiation. “I saw her cry many times. I also saw the fear in her eyes, but that is only human!”
One day her little angel was alone in her room.
“Sometimes my mother leaves the room to cry in the hallway in secret. When I’m dead, I think my mother will miss me, but I’m not afraid to die. I wasn’t born for this life,” the child said.
Asked what death meant to her, she replied, “One day I will go to sleep and my Father will come for me. Missing someone is the love that remains
I will wake up in His house, in my true life… And my mama will miss me,” she added.
“And what does missing someone mean to you, my dear?” “Missing someone is the love that remains.”
“Thank you, little angel, for the life you had, for the lessons you taught me, for the help you gave me. How beautiful longing is,” Dr. Rogério Brandão says today. How do we face this pain, sickness and death? Let me share an adult’s experience of all of these. Father Jesús Muñoz, who died of cancer in 1998, shared this letter:
“Suffering is a mystery that is only illuminated from the perspective of faith,” Munoz wrote. “In postoperative care, although I was sedated with morphine, I remember that on one occasion I woke up and I looked at the crucifix that was in front of me; I looked at Jesus Christ and I told Him that we were in the same situation: with our bodies full of wounds, with pain in our bones, alone in the face of suffering, abandoned, on the cross...
“I looked at myself and I rebelled. I couldn’t understand. God had abandoned me. He didn’t love me. And suddenly I remembered the words that God the Father spoke from heaven referring to Jesus on the day of His baptism and later on Tabor: ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am pleased.’
“And the beloved Son of God was hanging before me on a cross – the love of God, crucifi ed – the Son in the midst of inhuman suffering.
“And then I refl ected: if I am in the same situation as He is, then I too am the beloved and pleasing son of God. And I stopped rebelling. And I began to rest. And I saw the love of God.”
The experiences of the saints before us teach us much of the mystery of suffering in our salvation. “There is no cross, big or small, in our lives which the
Lord does not share with us,” Pope Francis says.