16 December
Mt 17:9, 10-13

The disciples asked Jesus, ‘Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ He replied, ‘Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognise him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.

Illusions are soft comfortable things usually.  They are cushions against reality.  Whoever thinks that faith is a flight from reality must never have read the psalms or the New Testament.  What we see there is an overwhelming realism.  There are few of us, probably, who wouldn’t describe ourselves as realists; but you could have realism coupled with self-indulgence, or with heroic pessimism, or with cynicism…. But in the Scriptures realism is coupled with faith in God.  “They will make the Son of Man suffer.” 

Jesus predicted his suffering, to prepare his disciples for the shock.  But otherwise he never talked or complained about it.  When you talk about your suffering you are creating a distance between you and it; you are not ‘suffering’ your suffering (‘to suffer’ originally meant ‘to allow’).  It cannot work its chemistry in you if you don’t let it come near – in fact, nearer than near: you have to become one with it.  When you are one with it, there is no distance and therefore no talk. 

When you talk about your suffering, people are usually too polite to change the subject.  How boring a subject it is!  People have too much suffering of their own, and they don’t know what to do with yours.  If you said you had a leaking roof they could offer to fix it for you, but what can they do about your suffering if all you can do about it yourself is talk?  And behind the talk they can often sense a plea for pity and sympathy; they sense that you are trying to make capital out of it.  Instead we have to make a life out of it. 

 

 
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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 

 

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