1.37 Can suffering help us to come closer to God?
Suffering is never a personal punishment from God: in fact, he is very close to everyone who suffers and grieves. Suffering was never part of God’s plan for the world, but came into the world as a result of original sin and the fall of man. To change this situation, Jesus was prepared to sacrifice his own life on the cross out of love for all human beings. He was humiliated and tortured by these same people.
Through his horrific suffering, Jesus opened a path to God in heaven. When we suffer, we can know that we are united with Jesus, who also suffered. He even conquered death! As we get to know him better and stay close to him, we too can overcome suffering and grief and enter God’s presence in heaven. By uniting with Jesus, our suffering can become meaningful.
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The Wisdom of the Church
What is the significance of Jesus’ compassion for the sick?
The compassion of Jesus toward the sick and his many healings of the infirm were a clear sign that with him had come the Kingdom of God and therefore victory over sin, over suffering, and over death. By his own passion and death he gave new meaning to our suffering which, when united with his own, can become a means of purification and of salvation for us and for others. [CCCC 314]
Why did Jesus show so much interest in the sick?
Jesus came in order to show God’s love. He often did this in places where we feel especially threatened: in the weakening of our life through sickness. God wants us to become well in body and soul and, therefore, to believe and to acknowledge the coming of God’s kingdom.
Sometimes a person has to become sick in order to recognize what we all—healthy or sick—need more than anything else: God. We have no life except in him. That is why sick people and sinners can have a special instinct for the essential things. Already in the New Testament it was precisely the sick people who sought the presence of Jesus; they tried “to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed them all” (Lk 6:19). [Youcat 241]
This is what the Popes say
Human sufferings, united to the redemptive suffering of Christ, constitute a special support for the powers of good, and open the way to the victory of these salvific powers. [Pope John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris, n. 27]