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A Palm Sunday Message from the Rector - The Mystery of Suffering 

Dear brothers and sisters, 

How worried are you about the coronavirus (COVID-19)? Though the cherry blossoms are at peak bloom, some health experts warn that Japan has yet to reach its peak for the coronavirus infections. In fact, the number of coronavirus cases are rising significantly in the Tokyo Metropolitan area and its surrounding prefectures. 

Globally, about 1,000,000 have been affected and more than 51,000 people have died. Many leaders across the world say that this is a war against an invisible enemy. Accordingly, many countries have imposed strict lockdowns to stem the spread, so a great number of people around the world are under “stay at home” orders. This is causing increased stress and anxiety. How do we cope with coronavirus-related stress and anxiety? This question is really becoming critical. Indeed, people are suffering from “Corona Blue” which is a new combined word of “coronavirus” and “blue” meaning depression stemming from coronavirus-related stress and anxiety. How do we overcome suffering of Corona Blue?    

This question reminds me of the mystery of Jesus’ suffering. Understanding the mystery of Jesus’ suffering provides helpful insight into the solution to suffering of Corona Blue. Jesus became truly human while remaining truly God. He was able to reach into the history of every human and take upon himself the entirety of evil and the suffering flowing from it. As the Prophet Isaiah said, “He has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases…he was wounded for our transgressions…crushed for our iniquities…and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6). 

By his suffering, death, and resurrection, Jesus made it possible for every human suffering united with him to become the means of salvation. By gazing on Jesus’ cross through the eyes of faith, we discover that every suffering becomes our way of salvation as long as we freely unite it with the suffering of Jesus, boundlessly trusting in him.   

Leading our lives, we cannot escape from suffering both in body and soul. Suffering is somewhat of a mystery but reflecting on Jesus’ suffering enables us to see the positive side of our own suffering. It leads the way to our glory and redemption. 

God never promises that the righteous will not suffer. He promises that he will walk through the suffering with us and give us the grace and strength through faith in Jesus to deal with it.     

Today is Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is the day we reflect on the suffering and death of Jesus and to prepare for the celebration of his resurrection. By reflecting on the mystery of Jesus’ suffering, I hope we can walk with him on his journey during this time of pain and suffering being experienced all around the world. 

At this moment, the title of a song by Queen “Pain is so close to pleasure” comes to mind. Please keep safe and healthy wherever you may be at this difficult time. 

God bless you all, 

Simon

Rector of Yokohama Christ Church