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Lament is a Participation in the Pain of Others

By Fr. Daniel Pinell


He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” – Mark 8: 31-33


I recognize it is not easy to listen to the pain of others. Doing this can make us uncomfortable. It can depress our moods. Many times we rush into suggesting solutions, growing impatient with their situation.


To stand still in the presence of pain is (ours or other’s) is one of the most difficult things we can do.


I imagine that’s part of the reason why Peter started rebuking Jesus when He announced His suffering. Sure, Peter rebuked Jesus because His pain contradicted Peter’s ideas of a triumphant military Messiah. But I also think the pain Jesus was foretelling was too painful for Peter to bear.

Lament is an invitation to share in the pain of others. When we are in pain ourselves many of us look for the company of someone who can bear this pain with us by their presence. We want our pain to be heard. We want it to be understood. We want it to be acknowledged.


When we encounter pain in others, instead of rushing to conclusions by telling them to stop complaining or finding a solution for them, what is many times needed is the courage to stand with them in their pain.


In other words, what is needed is to have the courage to lament with them.



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