Fri | Jul 10, 2020

Diary of a Ghetto Priest | I choose to suffer for the sake of love

Published:Friday | February 28, 2020 | 12:19 AM

On behalf of the poor and in the name of Jesus Christ, I choose to suffer for Jamaica and the poor of the world. I could decide to live in Europe or North America. But my love for Jesus Christ does not allow me. I have to come to preach good news to the poor, to set the captives free (St Luke 4: 18-20). There really is no true love unless we suffer on behalf of the others who are weak and in great need.

In fact, there really is no true meaning in life unless our lives are ones given to God and others in service. It is really the suffering ones who give meaning to our lives. In fact, it is the needy who give us purpose in life, rather than we giving purpose to them. It is a strange paradox.

As we pour out our lives for others, we find God and the fullness of meaning in the crucified Christ – the God of justice and mercy who suffered excruciatingly in every member of his body to die for our sins and to save us from selfishness and the emptiness of a worldly life.

I, too, am called to forego a selfish life. I want to regret a selfish life. I want to put aside a life of appetites and personal satisfaction. I want to serve until there is nothing left in me, then I believe I will be peaceful and happy. As we Jamaicans sing, “The way to be happy is to make others happy and make a ­little heaven down here.”

Jesus, the most suffering one, was the happiest of men, and He was happiest suffering for us and rescuing us from our sins and condemnation. We, too, are called to be like Christ, suffering for others in poverty and sin, “The Son of Man must suffer many things. He will be rejected by the elders and chief priests and teachers of law, and be put to death. Then after three days, he will be raised up to life.”

Some Christians say that Jesus died on the cross once and for all. It is over and done with, so why should we carry the cross and suffer over again? But a sinner I am, and I want to suffer also as Christ did for my wrongs, and the wrongs of others, in my love of Christ. I want to be like Him and also to serve the poorest of ­people. “If you wish to be a follower of mine, deny yourself and take up your cross each day and ­follow me! For if you choose to save your life, you will lose it, but if you choose to lose your life for my sake, you will save it. What does it profit you to gain the world, if you destroy or damage yourself.” (Luke 9:23-25)