By Our Wounds


From The Passion of the Christ

 

COMFORT. Where in the bible does it say that the Christian is to seek out comfort? Where even in the Catholic Church’s history of saints and mystics do we see that comfort is the goal of the soul?

Now, most of you are thinking material comfort. Certainly, that is a troubling locus of the modern mind. But there is something deeper…

 

THE MIND OF CHRIST

Few Christians no longer know how to suffer, or what to do with suffering.

By this, I mean to suffer the injustice of others and of life itself. And if Christians do not know the value and meaning of suffering, then there ceases to be that sacrifice which…

complete(s) what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church. (Col 1:24)

The cost of this lapse in our collective memory can be measured in souls.

"Precisely," says the devil. If he can make the Body of Christ forget that we are pilgrims on a journey—a journey which begins by picking up one’s cross and culminates in the crucifixion of the ego—then he has won a decisive victory. But it is a victory which is usually short lived: persecution is the usual way God "awakens" the memory of the Church: that we exist to love as Christ has loved us.

Jesus did not come to start a country club called the Catholic Church. He came to snatch us from the real and present danger of eternal damnation via the seduction of sin. He, the Head, did this by means of a cruel death upon a cross. The Church, then, His Body, are the hands and feet by which Jesus reaches out, sacramentally and visibly. So if the Head passed through Calvary, will the Body be spared?

 

THE MIND OF LOVE

If by His wounds we are healed (1 Pt 2:24)—and we are the Body of Christ—then it is by our wounds that the world will be healed. For Christ will be healing through us.

Jesus himself, through them, sent forth from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. (Mk 16:20, The shorter ending; NAB) 

But our wounds… those sufferings inflicted on us by others and the cruelties of life, are only effective if we receive them with love, and for the sake of love. For God is love, and when we do anything with love, it is God who then transubstantiates that action into grace. This is how we participate and complete what is lacking in the application of Christ’s sacrifice.

However, if it is not love pouring from our wounds but rather bitterness, anger, defensiveness, pettiness, complaining, and self-pity, then our wounds will not heal others. They will poison souls, and leave them further disillusioned, further lost in their search for Christ. For this reason Peter says,  

…since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same attitude.  (1 Pt 4:1)

Don’t get comfortable—get "cruciformed"—a heart ready to serve. We are all going to suffer in this life. But the attitude of the Christian is "I will suffer for my brother. I will bear his burdens. I will overlook his faults. I will let my love cover a multitude of sins." Such love destroys principalities and powers!

…obliterating the bond against us… he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross; despoiling the principalities and the powers… (Col 2:14-15)

It is this kind of love the world is seeking… this kind of soul… saints who become signs of contradiction in the world: 

I will love you without counting the cost. I will let you scourge me with your words, trample me with your pride, burden me with your faults, crucify me with your insensitivity, abandon me in the tomb of darkness with your unloyalty. I will respond with a smile; I will hold my tongue; I will put your needs before mine. I will embrace injustice in my flesh for your sake, and the sake of whomever God wishes to use my suffering.

Ah! Such love is rare these days. How the world longs to see such a face, which is the face of Christ. And when we find one… like Mother Teresa, Maximilian Kolbe, or John Paul II, the whole world gathers to mourn their passing, whether now, or decades later.

But let us not stand in line with the mourners, weeping for ourselves and our loss. Who are we mourning for but for Christ who lived in them? Why is the world gawking if not for one more glimpse of that Hope for which we all long? Where will they see Him again, if not in our faces, in our words, our silence, our patience, our sacrifice, our gentleness, our willingness to forgive?

Each time we love in this way, it wounds us. But it heals the world.
 

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends… (John 15:13)

If the word has not converted, it will be blood that converts.  —POPE JOHN PAUL II, from the poem Stanislaw

 

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