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Spiritual Reflection: 28th October 2006

Christians:  Sadists?  Masochists?



Fr. Cheriyan Menacherry CMI



It was a sprint. A world-famous athlete was the favourite for the gold. The race began. The track burned. Still only 100 meter more. He was about to break the world record. Exactly at the point, he has a muscle spasm in his leg. It was a terrible fall on the track. The dream for gold was blown out. A bitter disappointment! The athlete was not able to believe his downfall. But, in spite of the harsh psychic torment, he stood suddenly on the track. Massive was the pain on his leg; but with a great athletic spirit he began to limp boldly on the track to the finishing line. Each of his limping was applauded by the crowd in the stadium. As he with the last drop of energy, approached the finishing line naturally he was the last. But the entire stadium roared with the applause. Yes, through sorrow to the glory!
A Christian 'sentence' has two unavoidable elements: Cross or sorrow, success or resurrection. The Christian sentence will not be completed only with sadness or cross. Through sadness and sorrows, the joy of the success comes. In the Gospel when Peter once heard, that his master Jesus Christ must suffer and must be killed Peter was very sad. Peter wished that his master did not have to suffer and to die (cf. Mt. 16:22; Mk. 8:32). Why was Peter sad? As an inattentive, absent minded pupil he did not hear the full sentence of his Master. The sentence of Jesus Christ was not complete with suffering and death. It is through suffering and death, there comes success and resurrection. Jesus said to his disciples: "The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed. . . ." (Mk. 8:31). His sentence was, however, not yet complete. He said further, which Peter did not hear or did not understand: ". . . and after three days rise again." (Mk. 8:31).

Like Peter at that time, people are sorrowful over suffering and death. Sad: because people do not understand the full Christian sentence. Christianity is no sadistic, masochistic religion that is taking pleasure in sufferings. Christian principle is: through sorrows to the success, through the death to the resurrection.

A university student was preparing for an examination. Her entire concentration was on her studies. Her friend is very sad because he cannot enjoy the October festival in Munich with her. He wanted to watch on the television, for example the Olympic Games. But he sits alone a bit sad before the television. He wants to go with her to the disco, but she is busy with her books till late in the night. The young woman noticed that her friend is very sad. Once she said: "I know that you are very sad, because we can undertake nothing together because of my exam: cannot go to the October festival; cannot go to the disco and can not watch TV together. It is a very testing time for us. But you forget one thing: If I study hard now day and night sacrificing many other things, there comes a day of great joy of success. I can pass my exam with a great distinction. Then I can get a good job than the present one; and so I can earn more for our happy life.

The Olympic motto is: "citius, altius, fortius" (Faster-higher-stronger). But through constant hard works, through great pains and through a lot of sacrifices! "Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one" (1 Cor. 9:25).  

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