Joy and Suffering

In this Sunday's reading from Colossians, Paul exclaims: "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake."

I have been reading these past days Sidney Callahan's richly evocative and deeply personal new book, Created for Joy: A Christian View of Suffering. Her reflections help illuminate the Pauline passage:

Living in, with, and through Christ, makes it possible to become transformed and to transform the world. Love produces healing, joy, and gladness as fruits of the Christian life -- even while recognizing the full horror of intractable sufferings. Jesus suffers with us and we suffer with him as we participate in his saving work. At the same time, Jesus rejoices, and we receive the gift of joy. Gladly celebrating the resurrection gives proof of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Joy, empathy, and love for those who suffer inspire ceaseless labor to end suffering. The double commands of Christ are given clearly: "take up your cross," and "rejoice without ceasing."

Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is a longtime Commonweal contributor.

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