A while back, I wrote a two-part post on the secular vs. Catholic meaning of suffering, posted here and here. That's the background for today's post, so read it if you haven't already, and come right back! We'll wait!
Back already? Okay then, on we go....
OK, I've been pondering this post. It is a very clear explanation for me. I asked some other friends about it (all Protestant), and one replied with the explanation that the word "afflictions" is never used of the suffering of Jesus on the cross. Do you know if this is true? His point was that the "affliction" was describing what Jesus endured in ministry. These afflictions are not yet complete and in this sense Jesus still suffers as He ministers through His people.
I am soooooo curious what you would have to say about that one. I know what my gut tells me, but I always have a hard time putting it into words.
Well, to get the best answer to a Bible question, there was no question about what to do next! I asked Gayle Somers!
|COR ARDENS CATHOLIC SCRIPTURE STUDIES|
Here's what Gayle said:
It's curious (and, to my mind, somewhat arbitrary) to assume that because the word "afflicted" isn't used of Jesus in the Gospels about His suffering on the Cross, it would only refer to what He experienced in His ministry before the Cross. One of the most powerful OT passages about Jesus, the Suffering Servant, says this:
"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities." (Isa. 53:3-5).
Surely this is a prophecy of Christ's redemptive work on the Cross, and it uses the word "afflicted."
There is another Pauline verse that speaks about the dying of Christ (which He did only on the Cross) being in our bodies as well:
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies" (2 Cor. 4:7-10).
It seems clear from these verses that St. Paul was associating the afflictions in his body with the suffering of Christ on the Cross. Of course, Jesus gave a direct invitation to ALL of us to join Him on the Cross--"If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" (Mt. 16:24). There would be no point in Jesus making reference to a cross if He only meant self-denial in a kind of spiritual way. He meant for us to deny ourselves AND to join Him in His suffering on a cross.
One other point: I read through the blog and some of the posts, and I don't think I saw it mentioned that when Jesus freely accepted His suffering and death on the Cross, He was acknowledging that these were the just punishments of God on man's sin. Man's sin is that serious. So, when we ourselves enter into some kind of suffering, I think it's helpful to have a brief moment when we acknowledge that, too. The great gift comes, as you so wonderfully made clear, when we realize that our suffering can be joined to the Lord's to accomplish the very reason He was willing to suffer on the Cross. So beautiful!
Thank you, Gayle! And, I hope this answers your question, Kristy!
Okay, since we are talking Scripture, I thought I would tell you about a very cool new site.
A regular Bubble reader, Lori, tried to find a clickable "read-the-Bible-in-a-year" plan for Catholics. She could only find Protestant versions online (which do not include the Deuterocanonical books), so she decided to make a Catholic site herself! The result is Reading the Catholic Bible in a Year, which I will be using myself since it's convenient and uncomplicated! Enjoy!
And finally, I hope you have already ordered your copy of Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line, by Abby Johnson. It's being released today, and it's currently #13 the Amazon Top 100, praise God!
You may know the story, but if not, here's a quick overview:
In October 2009, after eight years with Planned Parenthood, clinic director Abby Johnson quit. She had been asked to assist in the ultrasound-guided abortion of a 13-week-old baby, and what she witnessed was enough to make her walk headlong into the pro-life movement. In fact, she joined the very group which counseled outside her clinic. Not surprisingly, Planned Parenthood took her to court after that, in an attempt to keep her silent. The judge listened to PP and promptly dismissed the case.
Abby joins the ranks of many other courageous converts to the pro-life cause, including Norma McCorvey ("Roe" of Roe v. Wade) and Dr. Bernard Nathanson (co-founder of NARAL).
I've already ordered my book, and I hope you will, too.
One last thing:
Those of you who are new to the Bubble, and those of you old-timers who are just lazy (you know who you are) -- I want your faith story. If you are Catholic, write about your spiritual journey, post it on your blog (and let me know when it's been posted), and I will link your story to the "Bloggers' Faith Stories" at the top of the page.