Pinkie-Toe Problems

This is not the post I intended to write today, but something struck me in a new way at Mass this morning, and I wanted to share it.

Sometimes I become so self-focused that I fail to see the joys and sorrows of those around me—even those close to me. I get so wrapped up in my own little sufferings, injuries, and humiliations that I lose perspective and wallow in woe-is-me.

I do not suffer well, even in small ways.

Inevitably something happens to restore my perspective—a friend loses a loved one, a marriage crumbles, tragedy strikes—and I feel guilty for feeling as though I suffer at all. Christ suffered. Those people suffer. My tiny pains and problems don’t count for much in the face of such pain and sorrow.

This morning, however, it occurred to me that this perspective is also a misperception. Scripture tells us that we are the Body of Christ, and each of us part of Him (Cor 12:12-26). Christ’s Passion was comprehensive—no part of Him did not bear the brunt of hurt and humiliation inflicted by the Roman authorities and His own people. His body bore the stripes of the lash; His head, the stabbing thorns; His hands and feet, the nail holes. His shoulders were scraped and torn by the rough wood of the cross; His limbs and joints were skinned and aching from a dragging, stumbling, exhausting trek up stony streets to the place of His death. His lungs labored for breath in the slow death of crucifixion; His heart hammered, ceased, and was run through by a spear; His soul and will were tempted and tested ceaselessly to do the will of His Father.

Did His head suffer less worthily than His feet for not having been pierced through? Of course not. His body is one and the same, so whatever is suffered in one part is felt by all.

And the same applies to us, as the new Body of Christ, His Church. We are one and the same body: “If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy” (1 Cor 12:26).

This may not be theologically profound, but it helped me gain true perspective: to neither overplay nor downplay my own sufferings and to see more clearly how even my “first-world” problems can contribute both to the suffering of Christ and to His redemption of the world. Perhaps my problems are that of a pinkie toe rubbed raw on the hard path to Calvary. I am not His pierced hand, head, or heart—but my pinkie-toe problems are His, too, because I am a part of His body. And as such they are worthy to be offered for souls.

I am not at the point of so many great saints, who actively seek new sufferings and humiliations in order to be more conformed to Christ. But perhaps I can learn to better accept and offer my little sufferings up in union with my Lord, and thereby take one more step toward heaven.

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