Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Suffering follow-up: Jesus' "affliction" on the Cross. Plus a site and a book you don't want to miss...

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....

Recently, Kristy commented on the suffering posts with a question:

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!


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!

Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line

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. 



  1. I love this response by Gayle Somers. Targeting the word "affliction" seems to be splitting hairs to me. It's also always so helpful for me when specific wording enters into the debate to remember that we are dealing with modern, English translations.

    Yay for Abby Johnson's book! I just found it so helpful to read her journey, what motivated her to get involved with PP, her reasons for being pro-choice and Christian and why all that changed.

  2. It's already on my Kindle.
    When I get a break from Mr. Needy today, I'm going to start reading it.:)

  3. I just read the beginning of the book on Ama.zon. HOLY CRAP! Sitting at my desk trying not to cry like a little girl.

    I don't know that I could read the whole book!

    And the reviews are right...she's honest.

  4. Hi Leila! I was having a hard time too finding a Catholic bible "Read through in one year" reading plan, but I found one on Amazon that I just received yesterday. It looks neat and there are readings for each day (from the looks of it one old testament and 1 new testament - that tie together) and a quote from the Saint of the Day! (You know me and my interest in the Saints - I was sold at that). The site you profiled looks awesome as well! I just thought I would include a link to the one I bought in case someone wants an all-in-one Bible / reading plan version - aka hard copy! ;)


  5. It's just not that easy to put my "faith story" into words! At least that's the excuse I'm gonna go with for now :)

  6. Hi Leila! Thank you for sharing my link - I hope others are blessed as they read the Bible.

    Here is a link to my story; I'm not sure if it's quite what you want? http://iamlori.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/my-story/

    Finally, thank you for the book recommendation; I will get a copy!

  7. Thanks for your great posts, Leila. I did as I was bidden and read your first two posts on suffering. I skimmed some of the comments, because I couldn't spend all day at the computer.

    Anyway, David L. Greenstock helped me better understand Christ's birth and crucifixion as expiation for our sins through his book (which I still haven't read enough of), "Christopher's Talks to Catholic Children." Greenstock wrote:

    “You will remember that, last time, we were talking about God's difficulty which had to be overcome before He would forgive the sin committed by Adam when he refused to obey God's command. God wanted to forgive us, but He also wanted full satisfaction made for the sin. In other words, He demanded as much honour and praise as He had received insult for the offence. You know also what we said about those two things — insult and honour. Insult is measured by greatness of the person insulted, and honour by the dignity of the person who does the honouring or praising. You can understand from this that the only person who can honour and praise an offended God enough to make up for the insult offered to Him by sin is someone whose dignity and greatness is equal to God: in other words, God Himself. There is no one else equal to Him, is there?

    “There is also another point to think of, and it is this. Man committed the sin, and so it is only right and just that man should make the satisfaction. Yet on the other hand, man left to himself cannot do that fully, because his dignity is not equal to that of the God he offended: and that is absolutely necessary before full and complete satisfaction can be made” (pps. 35 to 36).

    For these reasons, God came up with the perfect means of redemption: becoming man, then suffering on the cross.

    To better understand the social climate at the time of Jesus' ministry, I highly recommend "The Spear" by Louis de Wohl. You can read some of my thoughts on it here: http://ofgreatmind.blogspot.com/2009/06/politics-passion-and-pooling-of.html

    One more thing: There is a One Year Catholic Bible (I own a copy and have read the entire thing more than once; but some of those Old Testament readings are tough.) Here's a link: http://www.amazon.com/Catholic-One-Year-Bible/dp/0879732156/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1294770172&sr=1-1

  8. Regarding reading the Bible in a Year, what a great site Lori! Really user-friendly : )

    If anyone wants a checklist to reading the Catholic Bible and the Catechism in a year then try here


  9. I ordered my copy yesterday!

    Great answer, Gayle! I'd never heard that objection to afflictions before.

  10. I had no idea about the book! I added it to my wish list. Thank you! Very excited about the website too!
    I think you already have my faith story, but here it is

  11. I've already gotten Unplanned on my kindle and read the first chapter. I can't wait to read more tonight.

  12. Hi! A Friend sent me this interview with Abby Johnson from today.

    So clear.
    I read the first chap´ter of her book and had to skip through parts of it because I could not read how they do abortions. Will buy the book!

  13. My conversion story is here.

    I plan to order Abby's book as soon as pay day hits. :)

  14. i haven't written my faith story yet... maybe it;s just laziness, maybe it's just not knowing how to put it into words... or maybe it's still chugging along! not sure, but when i do post one, you'll be the first to know!

  15. Abby Johnson held a webcast last night...over 21,000 people attended! Luckily they released the recording of the event, and you can find it here:


  16. Leila and Gayle, thank you thank you thank you! I have been seeing a pattern that when I raise a question about Scripture that I had previously (as a Protestant) read right over, my Protestant friends try to explain it away by saying that the verse doesn't really mean what it says. And the irony is that they claim that the Bible is their sole source of authority.

    I only hope to someday understand and to be able to explain God Word accurately, as you ladies do! It just fills my heart how much of the Scriptures have come alive to me since returning to the Catholic Church!

  17. Are you calling me lazy woman! haha. I will be working on putting this into words soon. Thank you for your encouragement:)

  18. I confess, I only read to the first paragraph of Gayle's commentary but just want to point out, she's right. Leila remember? Both/and, not either/or. Generally speaking (there's that word 'generally') when Protestants read Scripture, they read it like 'either/or' and Catholics read it as 'both/and'. This strikes me as a (okay, somewhat crude) example of that important difference between the way we read Scripture and the way they do.

    Again, I'm speaking only generally. If something can mean 'both', a lot of the times, we will dispute with protestants where they will insist that it can only mean 'one' thing.

    Did that make sense?

  19. P.S. Almost forgot, the whole reason I came over here was to tell you about this! We can now welcome her home to the Catholic Church. She's rejected contraception, too, not just abortion. Did anyone else not see this coming? ;-)

  20. Abby Johnson is converting to Catholicism? This is the first that I've heard of it (Lisa's link). How terribly exciting!

  21. I am so glad to hear that! It's just like Norma McCorvey and Dr. Bernard Nathanson, both Catholics now! :) God is so good!

  22. I had my suspicions. :) Her blog talks about using Creighton and how she is against the contraceptive mentality. Also her book was jointly published by Tyndale and Ignatius Press... that's never happened before! I am so glad to hear this is happening!

  23. Will have to work on my faith story when Maggie is sleeping! Our Catholic women's book club is going to read Unplanned for our next book; I'm looking forward to it.


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