Stop the pain! Overwhelming feelings of despair may cause anyone to think that things would be better if they had never been born. Looking for relief from emotional or physical problems, we look for the right drug or some sort of avenue of escape. Rich or poor, all of us must endure distress in life. Of what heavenly good is pain?
The classic movie “It’s a wonderful life” starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed paints a dramatic picture of a desperate situation on a great guy named George Bailey. He looses sight of his overall importance in life when faced with financial ruin and accusations of fraud. He tries to self-medicate the pain with alcohol and drives himself to a drawbridge where he ponders suicide on a snowy Christmas Eve. A peculiar angel named Clarence intervenes at the last moment by appealing to the goodness within the man that underlies all else. Clarence throws himself into the torrent and yells for help to the man. Instantly, saving the life of another is the automatic response and the thoughts of his plight disappear. The angel allows George to see how things would be if he had never lived at all. The value of his life is seen clearly in the positive events that shaped his past and present. George Bailey sees the light and is, in a sense, born again.
Pain is an inevitable part of life and serves a possible purpose. As gold is refined by fire, we tend to value the best things in life when enduring pain. Simple pleasures taken for granted are prized when they are lost. A breath easily taken, the sight of a loved one or walking with a spring in one’s step may be too much for some to expect. The need for a miracle brought crowds to Jesus as he taught and healed. The suffering sought forgiveness of sins, demons driven out, lepers cured and on and on. Many were drawn to him seeking relief from pain. God allows pain to serve as a call and as a means to convey the greatest love story of all.
The passion of Jesus Christ is the infinite mystery of the revelation of God. Oh! How inspired and elevated our minds become when experiencing an awesome natural beauty such as a magnificent flower or a scene of sun and clouds, mountains or water. It is easy to believe in the God that sends new life, most impressively when it is our own child. God is capable of doing anything to perfection. Why would mental and physical pain and spiritual anguish be the method chosen to redeem all of mankind and reunite a sinful people to a holy God?
An act of unconditional love is a perfect offering as there are no preconditions as well as no payment. It simply must be received. The relevance of the act is balanced against the ability of the giver. All powerful, all loving, and beyond imagination, God acted by giving the highest of sacrifices as love that knows no bounds submitted to pain of every sort as a holy, living sacrifice. God’s open invitation to enjoy His friendship and forgiveness is the good news for all to be welcomed into a wonderful life.
We are a community of laymen and laywomen who, with vowed Passionists, seek to share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross through prayer, ongoing spiritual formation, and proclamation of the message of Christ Crucified.
One thought on “It’s a Wonderful Life”
A great article – well written – thank you James Paulin for sharing your gifts with all. Evan