A short spiritual reflection rooted in our specific calling as Knights will be a regular feature of each Knightline. The first few of these will be reflections on the five pillars of a Knight and will draw on the Sunday Mass readings.
This reflection is on the pillar of “suffering for the good.”
This coming weekend, the Mass readings will recount the story of Our Lord’s Passion. It begins with his “triumphal” entry into Jerusalem, when the crowds are laying palm branches on the ground before him and hailing him with Hosannas as a beloved king. But it concludes with a `very different scene — Our Lord’s horrific death, after he was betrayed, humiliated and abandoned by even his closest friends.
In one sense, we are spectators of this story, watching what God was willing to do out of love for each one of us. We stand in awe of this sacrifice, made for no other reason than for love of us while we “were yet his enemies.”
But we are more than spectators. We have this from Our Lord himself. For the same Lord who endured the Cross for us told us that “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt 16:24-26). Lest he be misunderstood, Our Lord also told his disciples: “‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (Jn 15:20).
We are Christ’s servants. It is what we committed to when we became Christians, it is what we affirmed in our confirmation, it is what we profess to week in and week out when we recite the Creed and attend Mass. And it is what we reaffirmed in a special way when we became Knights.
Because we are Christ’s servants, we can expect to be treated as Christ was treated. And what is more, we should consider it an honor to be treated as he was treated — whether in honor or dishonor, in praise or condemnation, in thanksgiving or persecution. We are not greater than our Master.
The current pandemic and the crisis unfolding around it are not things any one of us would have chosen. But it is what we face. And we will be have a choice — the same choice that Peter faced in Sunday’s Gospel and that every servant of Christ faces in a moment of trial. Will we choose to suffer with Christ? The suffering around us is wide; it is economic, physical, mental and emotional. It is everywhere and it’s likely to increase. It’s likely each of us will experience great loss.
When Peter was faced with a similar a trial — the loss of his own life for being a follower of Jesus — he fled. He denied his Lord. But that wasn’t the end of the story. This same Peter repented for his failing and spent the rest of his life suffering for the Gospel and for the Church. This same Peter became the first pope, ending his days as a martyr for Christ.
The Church asks us to contemplate the Peter of the denial in a special way this week. And this leads to two piercing questions: “What would we have done? What would we do now if faced with that same choice?”
It is easy to say you’re a disciple, but it’s hard to act as one when trials come. As Knights, we cannot simply settle for words. We need to ask ourselves honestly just how willing we are to follow Christ into suffering if he should beckon us.
Whatever our answer, the good news is that grace — the same grace that made Peter a saint and a martyr — is available to us as well. We don’t have to be the Peter of the denial. We have the reassurance of God’s word on this: “God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13).
Brothers, we will undoubtedly face trials and sufferings in the days ahead. But let us do it together, as Knights, in the confidence that God has given us the grace to face every trial. Let us — with St. Peter and all the saints and martyrs — be honored to follow our Master where he leads. Let us be willing to endure what comes for no other reason than love of him and those he has given us to love. Vivat Jesus!
Originally published in a special bi-weekly edition of Knightline, a resource for K of C leaders and members. Access Knightline’s monthly archives
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