Suffering

Rejoicing in Suffering – Mediation of the Studies in 1 Peter

Rejoicing in Suffering – Mediation of the Studies in 1 Peter

This confidence is captured in the beautiful last verse of our quoted passage: “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will do right and entrust their souls to a faithful Creator.” William Barclay tells us that the word we translate “entrust” is a technical term for depositing money with a trusted friend: “In the ancient days there were no banks and few really safe places in which to deposit money. So, before a man went on a journey, he often left his money in the safe keeping of a friend. Such a trust was regarded as one of the most sacred things in life. The friend was absolutely bound by all honour and all religion to return the money intact.” (Barclay, James and Peter, p.261) Then he adds this truth: “If a man entrusts himself to God, God will not fail him. If such a trust is sacred to men, how much more is it sacred to God.”

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Suffering, Solidarity and Glory – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

Suffering, Solidarity and Glory – Meditation of the Studies in the Gospel of Luke

This, too, is our mission, for we are all called to be Mary’s: to bear the one who has brought salvation and life to the world through his own suffering and death. We do this not only in the way that we bear our own crosses—in perseverance, supplication, faithfulness and hope—but also in the way that we willingly share in those of others and help them through solidarity and charity. CS Lewis has said that pain is God’s “megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” And we, as disciples of Christ, are called to turn the blaring, grating and indistinct din of pain into the healing balm of Christ’s sacrificial and saving love, through the same solidarity by which he has shown his love for us.

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Joy and Suffering – Third Meditation of the Studies in 1 Peter

Joy and Suffering – Third Meditation of the Studies in 1 Peter

This may be a hard word but it is a good word and one which I am confident God wants us to embrace…Peter says, “you may have to suffer various trials so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and honor and glory.” Of course the testing here is not a test to see if you or I pass or fail. Rather it is the sort of test, like an athlete’s endurance trials, that is meant to strengthen and purify what is already there.

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The God Who is There – Gospel in Preparation for the Solemnity of Christ the King

There is good biblical evidence that God not only suffered in Christ, but that God in Christ suffers with his people still…It is wonderful that we may share in Christ’s sufferings; it is more wonderful still that he shares in ours. Truly his name is “Emmanuel,” “God with us.” Did Jesus not say that in ministering to the hungry and thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the prisoner, we would be ministering to him, indicating that he had identified himself with all needy and suffering people?

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Drinking the Cup – Gospel in Preparation for the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Drinking the Cup – Gospel in Preparation for the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

But the call to willingly participate in the cross is not only a call to suffer, but also with Christ, “to scorn the shame of the cross” for the joy that is set before us (Heb 12:2). This, perhaps, is the hardest part because it can mean any number of things in which we, like Christ, look to the Father and plead, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” even as we endure the blows of loving those who may not be able to love us in return or who, in their own woundedness, unwittingly hurt us. It does not mean, of course, turning a blind eye to sin or injustice. But, following the example of Dr. King, Jr., it does mean not retaliating in kind, and even showing mercy to those who might not show it to you.

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The Heart of God – Gospel in Preparation for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Heart of God – Gospel in Preparation for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This is God himself bringing life to the dead, revealing his passionate heart for his people. He is the fullness of all that was hinted at in every foreshadowing of the Old Testament. But as we see here, it is a fullness intimately concerned in the individual cares of his people. God has indeed visited his people in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the supreme revelation of the heart of God not only writ large in the stunning brushstrokes of salvation history, but also intimately inscribed in the heart of each one of his children, whom he dearly loves.

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Life in the Spirit – Second Reading in Preparation for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Life in the Spirit – Second Reading in Preparation for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

…when we focus on and are driven by those things that are of the flesh—our temptations, our sinful impulses, not least of which are our self-determined and self-consumed plans for our lives—we become slaves once again to fear. It is the inevitable result of becoming enslaved to an inexorable drive towards death and destruction, regardless of the pleasures or hope of fulfillment such things seem to promise.

It is only when we surrender to the Spirit of the One who is our Father, of the One who is Life Himself that this bondage can be broken and true peace be found

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Wounded for Our Transgressions – First Reading in Preparation for Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion

Wounded for Our Transgressions – First Reading in Preparation for Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion

Among these great passages which reveal the meaning of the crucifixion, two stand out above them all: Psalm 22, the beginning of which Jesus quoted from the Cross (“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”) and our passage for today, Isaiah 52-53, the glorious song of God’s Suffering Servant. In Psalm 22 we receive an actual moment by moment account of what Jesus endured ( “…all my bones are out of joint; my heart is melted like wax…they divide my garments among the, and for my raiment they cast lots….”). In Isaiah, though, we see why he endured it (“…He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed…”)

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For Our Sake and for Our Salvation – Gospel in Preparation for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

For Our Sake and for Our Salvation – Gospel in Preparation for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Whatever mystery enfolds the cross, these things we know clearly: He went deliberately; He did it for us; and He did it for the atonement of our sins and for our salvation. In John 10 Jesus tells his disciples , “I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…no one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord”. In Isaiah 53 we are told why:

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed”

As the Creed says so simply and eloquently, it was “for our sake and our salvation”.

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The God Who Emptied Himself – Second Reading in Preparation for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

The God Who Emptied Himself – Second Reading in Preparation for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

We, who are not God, grasp equality with God. He who was God did not grasp but emptied himself to become God’s servant and ours.And how has our grasping worked out for us? Literally miserably, filling our lives and the world with “enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension…and envy” (Galatians 5:21). Seeking to rise we have fallen, and fallen hard. But Jesus, who emptied himself, was raised up. He who sought not his own, but sought to serve God and man, lost nothing but was raised to higher glory. So shall it be with us. Ours is the way to death, his is the way to life. This is the meaning behind the seemingly enigmatic teaching of Jesus himself:

“He who is greatest among you will be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”(Matthew 23:11-12)

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