Friday, April 2, 2010

Lenten Reflection on Pain

by Fr. A. R. Arboleda, SSP

Pain is one of those things that remind us always that all men are equal. The young and the old suffer pain. The rich and the poor are visited by it. The great and the humble are not spared by pain. The great can rationalize over it but the humble know how to bear it. Indeed, no human being is stranger to pain.

Some people are afflicted with bodily pain. Others are pained in their hearts. Still others suffer in their minds. Pain is one experience that shouts how human, how vulnerable and mortal we are, and how much we need others. It marks our humanity and makes people ever so lovable.

I surely do not wish anyone to suffer pain of any kind. Much less would I want to inflict it with malice on anybody. But when it comes, both as a sign of our humanity and as a signal warning us of our illusions, pain has to be welcomed.

Down to brass tacks, pain is a very demanding but generous customer. When it comes, it does not leave us alone. It claims our attention and taxes our very person. But if all the time it was there, we were patient, attentive and generous, it would purify us and makes us better persons. Any person who knows how to suffer pain emerges purified, even-tempered, and a thousand times more compassionate.

There are times and moments when we have to savor loneliness and listen to what thoughts it brings, for such thoughts usually come from our innermost selves. We sometimes reject them because they reveal the truth to us or are painful to face. Moments of loneliness can be turned to moments of solitude with ourselves and with God. We all need these moments for we cannot go on forever escaping from our own selves.

Many young men and women do not find themselves because they hardly allow themselves a moment to be positively and creatively lonely.

It is sad that in spite of the advances of medicine, pain remains part of the human vocabulary. Worse, we have built the illusion that our world must become painless.

If we are willing to embrace life for what it is, we should be willing to welcome pain, too, for life without pain isn’t life at all. Pain is very much a part of life. And God has not taken away pain in order that we may not forget him and the Kingdom he promised us. In fact, the greatest illusion a man can ever have is to believe that in this life he can be perfectly happy.

Life on earth is but the beginning of life, and pain is but a passage towards the fullness of life, which will come only when we are delivered of this life where we are imprisoned in matter, limited in our movements and bound in time and place.

Even as we live, we are being diverted unto life. Just as there is pain when a woman gives birth to a child, so there will be pain even as this earth delivers us unto true life. Pain is part of our deliverance. If we welcome pain we shall be delivered unto life, God’s Life.

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