Study: Consider an experience of suffering in your life. What lessons did you learn? How did you change and grow?
Pray: Many people carry heavy crosses every day…pray for them that they find the strength and grace they need.
Serve: Many people carry heavy crosses every day…how can you help them?
The readings today weave together around some common themes:
- 1st Reading – The Servant who suffers to ransom others
- Psalm – We trust in the Lord’s mercy
- 2nd Reading – Jesus, tested in every way, sympathizes with our weaknesses
- Gospel – Christ came to serve and offer his life…inviting us to do the same
Let’s start with Jesus. The Lord’s mission included not only teaching and healing, but was most clearly articulated in his death and resurrection for the life of the world. Christ died for our sins – taking our place by his suffering on the Cross for the evil we have done. His resurrection blazes a trail for us that leads to Heaven.
It is crucial to note that suffering is the path, not the goal. God the Father did not choose Jesus to suffer out of a desire for pain, but to bridge the gap between the human and divine. The Lord is the High Priest whose suffering draws near to a wounded and broken humanity. Like us in all things but sin, Jesus embraces us as he stretched out his hands on the Cross.
The victory of the Resurrection reveals suffering as the doorway, a path that when taken purges and cleanses, through which Christ has passed to break the bonds of sin and death. Suffering does not end in suffering; it leads to a freedom in Christ that is filled with grace, mercy, and peace.
This message has elements of consolation and challenge for us today. The consolation? We look to Christ for our redemption – turning to the Lord whose saving death and resurrection give us eternal life.
The challenge? We are called to face our suffering, recognizing in the crosses of our lives the path of redemption that God sets before us. In other words, we drink from the cup of Christ’s suffering – but we do it with conviction, faith, and hope.
The suffering we face today is part of our transformation as disciples. We engage the challenges of this life, not because we welcome pain, but because we see God’s hand at work in our struggles to purify our hearts and desires. Through this process we offer our lives, following the example of Jesus Christ to bring life to those in our midst.
Drink from the cup. Consider the sufferings of today as an offering to the Lord – given out of love that our lives might be transformed into the image and likeness of Christ!
La crucifixion, Philippe de Champaigne; 1644-1646, 800 x 600 pixels.