We all suffer. And no matter how hard we fight, no matter how mighty a will we have, we will succumb to participation in suffering, and eventual physical death. But this does not have to be carried as an overwhelming burden, such as centuries of pre-Christian religions held in deterministic and cyclical fatalism. For in times prior to Christ, the stigmata of Padre Pio would have been thought of, primarily, as punishment for evil doings, the just dessert from vengeful gods, or as the simple fate of a simple beast living in a simple Universe. But the Incarnation, and Passion, not to forget the Resurrection, of Jesus Christ changed the human perspective on suffering, and death, forever. For in His Blood shed for all, Jesus became the Light which reveals holiness, and merit, in those who suffer with, in, and through the Crucified and Risen Lord of Mercy.
St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina was, without doubt, a Light, bright in faith and hope, shining in the holy suffering of Christ Jesus' Love.
"Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: ‘All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah." Ezra 1:1-6
We are all pagan kings, like Cyrus of Persia, in our sin. We build little kingdoms, and queenships, in our lust and pride and foolish arrogance. Yet, like King Cyrus, we are all called by the Almighty and Merciful God to repentance and conversion, leaving the prison of our little kingdoms to receive a share in the Everlasting and Eternal Kingdom of God. We are called to 'build a house in Jerusalem' for the Lord. And this house is first ourselves, second our family, and third our earthly community.
But, of what materials will we build a suitable house for the Almighty?
"Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, They shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves." Psalm 126:1-6
Holy suffering, bathed in tears of repentance, and lamentation of the loss of all good due to our sin, is the brick and mortar of our house filled with the Spirit of the Lord. But the cornerstone of this house is faith in the Mercy of God, in a lifeline thrown to us when we were voluntarily drowning in our own earthly incompetence. And this lifeline, soaked crimson in the Blood of Christ, inspires us to appreciate the fullness of the true definition of Love in personal sacrifice for the beloved, even to the point of death. The cornerstone, therefore, of our edifice, is the very same house which we ask the Eucharistic Lord to purify, before He enters under 'our roof.'
Built on the Rock of Love, fortified in the holy mortar of faithful suffering, this house must light the Way for the wayward soul.
"No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light." Luke 8:16-18
When Jesus was elevated on the Cross, those of faith, the few at the foot of the Cross, saw the Light which shines in a darkened Universe. For they beheld the only true Love which saves. Likewise, St. Padre Pio, in his mysterious stigmata, and the humble faith which bore scrutiny and criticism, shone brightly, even though he was hidden away from the public for very long stretches of time. And like the dying Jesus, Padre Pio's Light could not be hidden for long. For Resurrection in Jesus, and public and ecclesial revelation in the Padre from Pietrelcina, overcame all attempts to hide the Light.
And that Light is Love which conquers all suffering, all death, raising a house of God in the risen faith, hope and charity of those of us who await the Perfect Life to Come in the Real Presence of the Lord who has already won our victory.