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kisses of Jesus

Suffering—

Pain, humiliation, sickness and failure—

is but a kiss of Jesus.

Once I met a lady who had a terrible cancer.

She was suffering so much.

I told her,

“Now you come so close to Jesus on the cross that he is kissing you.”

Then she joined hands and said,

“Mother Teresa, please tell Jesus to stop kissing me.”

It was so beautiful.

She understood.

Suffering is a gift of God

A gift that makes us most Christlike.

People must not accept suffering as punishment.

—From “Words to Love By” by Mother Teresa

It’s been a couple of months since I first read these words by Mother Teresa on suffering.  Since then, I’ve read this offering at least 50 times. I’ve wanted to push back on the blessed sister, but I don’t think I’ve got enough secure footing to even bring it up. This whole genre of suffering makes me feel that I don’t really understand too much. I can identify with brokenness and discomfort at some level, but suffering? I know people who have suffered, not only in body, but also in heart, and soul, and mental anguish. I’ve lost some people that I’ve cared about, and I know the disappointment of failure, betrayal, and my own sins. But this kind of pain and suffering, this “thing” Mother Teresa addresses, has yet to show up on my own doorstep.

These last three lines bore into you, if you allowed them to:

“Suffering is a gift of God.”

“A gift that makes us most Christlike.”

“People must not accept suffering as punishment.”

This exposes how shallow I am. Seriously. She doesn’t say this is the only way to make us Christlike, but I get the feeling it might be the only true way to get there. I don’t think I trust religion or our spiritual processes to get us there, or anything else which requires our own choices or energies. She calls it a “gift,” and for it to be a “gift,” it must be given from elsewhere, and received by me. In other words, I can’t fabricate and declare my own “gift.” A gift ends up in my lap, and how I interact with that gift has everything to do with how that gift affects me.

The last line is also telling: If your ideas of God are enveloped with and supported by punitive notions and theology, then, of course you’ll see suffering as punishment.  What Mother Teresa teaches us, is that our “fear” of a punitive God is misplaced, and doing us no favors. God is either good or God isn’t.  So, which is it?

You may just have to sit with this one for a while (her words, not mine). I feel a massive pull to trust the love of God here. I talk and preach about it ALL OF THE TIME, but trusting that Love when you cannot always see it or feel it is another matter altogether. The Saint is tells us that Jesus is kissing us in our suffering. This feels like something other than “religion” as usual. —MDP

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. MIchelle Davis
    August 18, 2021 at 10:32 am

    Very inspirational and it has put life in a positive path.

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