Suffering is the great law of human life. Pain is attached to us like a shadow follows our steps. We can flee: but it inexorably accompanies us. Many ways lead it to us, and it reaches us in our whole being: our spirit is tormented by anxieties, by doubts, and by scruples; our heart is torn by separations, by being forgotten, by ingratitude, by bereavement; our soul is seized even in its hidden places; our body is overwhelmed by work and privations, it is tortured, broken-down, and devoured by disease.
God, it seems, wants us to feel all the spines of the crown of thorns, to make us carry all the weight of the cross. As day succeeds day, pain succeeds pain. Ah! He is to be pitied – he who suffers and has not the Faith!
For us Christians, in the midst of so many sadnesses, anxieties, and pains, where will come the blessed ray that illuminates the shadows of poverty and the darkness of suffering? Where will we draw the strength that sustains our weakness, raises our heart; the hope that gives courage and comfort by opening up the perspectives of eternity?
The Redeemer of the world wanted to suffer. He was like us in everything, except sin. Heaven and earth were stupefied to see Him exhausted, crushed. And Jesus, overwhelmed in his soul and body, asked His Father to take away from Him the cup of bitterness. The response of God was to send His angel. An angel appeared to Him, says the Evangelist, and comforted Him.
The commentators recognize here the Archangel Michael. It was suitable, they say, for the Prince of Angels to render this service to the Man-God. What they say here is piously explained by Saint Bonaventure: “We begged the Divine Majesty to remove this chalice from you. And the Eternal Father has answered: Jesus, my Son, knows that if he want the salvation of souls, he must die for them. Lord, what do you choose then?
– I wish the salvation of souls. I prefer to die.
– Courage then. The works of the Most High must be magnificent and His courage invincible. The pains will pass quickly, and their rigors will succeed the immortal glory. Your Father tells you by my mouth.”
Since this great scene, the Archangel Saint Michael has received a special gift, the gift of consoling. It is necessary to call to him in the troubled hours of life. He will descend from Heaven, the helping angel, as he came down bringing to Jesus Christ defiant strength, courage, and resignation. He will say to us as to the Savior that it is good for us to suffer, because suffering expiates, sanctifies, and acquires merits. Then, with his powerful hand, he will open the curtain of the world and of time, and will show us this country to which we slowly moving, a home where are no tears, no moans, no death, where there is a day without shadow, a sun without decline, a bliss unparalleled.
If this vision does not heal us, at least it will support us, and we will wait with a hope in our hearts, if not a smile on our lips, for the realization of the Divine promises.
Practice: In the pains of life, let us lift our eyes to Heaven and let us call to our helper, the Angel of celestial consolation.