Let him take up his cross and follow me.

Christ here speaks formally and the meaning of any evil is to exist in relation to Christ in his passion. Evil, or at least all evil suffered in history, is the event in Jerusalem diversified in different matter and so experienced by different persons with different intensities at different times. Said another way, evil is Christocentric, i.e. its point is to participate in Christ’s passion.

This sort of participation demands profound transformation of heart. In general, evil has a way of dominating our focus and intense focus on anything impedes our ability to see its order to something else, which by its nature demands seeing it in another context. In the concrete we can consider the evils of injustice, pain, or our own mistakes since each involves peculiar difficulties in our unifying them to Christ’s passion. In the face of injustice it is extremely hard to get past the completely justified desire for vengeance even though this is what following Christ demands. Seeing those who have wronged you suffer torment and loss is easily the hardest pleasure to resist, and a perfectly good and justified pleasure at that. It is very hard not to see pain and sickness as purely physical or medical problems and not spiritual realities. Even those with strong habits of the spiritual life can forget that physical pain is a spiritual reality, as happens in the life of Asa who begins his reign doing right in the eyes of the Lord but dies of a sickness with the last words the sacred author says of him being that in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians. Finally, It’s hard to see the pain caused by our own mistakes as something that needs to be offered. The idea that one could offer his self-inflicted guilt, shame, punishment or sadness to the Lord feels like one is letting himself off the hook.

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