My grandma died a few weeks ago after a decade-long struggle with an ugly mix of depression and dementia. Hers was a gradual decline, losing memory like a cook slowly peeling away the layers of an onion. Her suffering was extended, her passion drawn out. John the Baptist’s life came to a much swifter end. While his time in captivity must have been unpleasant, his passion was short and his suffering relatively abrupt.

As Christian people, we proclaim Christ crucified. It seems absurd—to celebrate Christ’s pain.  But, really, it’s the genius of Christianity.  If God can be, and is, present in the agony of the cross, then where is he not present? John’s beheading, my grandma’s decline—these are places where God can be found.

To ponder today: how do I understand the ‘foolishness’ of worshiping a God who suffered?

—Mark Bartholet lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he works with the Jesuits at  St. Peter Catholic Church. He is also a graduate of John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.