Monday, December 26, 2005

Suffering and Humiliation

“The governor’s soldiers took Jesus with them into the Praetorium and collected the whole cohort round him. Then they stripped him and made him wear a scarlet cloak, and having twisted some thorns into a crown, they put this on his head and placed a reed in his right hand. To make fun of him they knelt to him saying, ‘Hail king of the Jews!’ And they spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head with it. And when they had finished making fun of him, they took off the cloak and dressed him in his own clothes and led him away to crucify him” (Matthew 27: 27 – 31)

This is an incredible narrative packed in only 110 words. We see Jesus surrounded by the whole cohort, representing the full assembly of evil. How is it that some people will read the story of Christ’s passion and death and it will move them to lasting conversion and others will read the same story and remain unmoved? How I pray that when I read the gruesome narrative of the passion of the Christ, I will realize that it is my sin and that of others that lead him to this situation. I am taught that this suffering and humiliation of the God-man was necessary in order to assuage the justice of God and save me. Why does this knowledge not move from the head to the heart where it can produce a permanent fruit of repentance?

The greatest fruit of the contemplation of the passion of the Christ is a realization that it is also necessary for me to accept suffering in my life in order to share in Christ’s suffering and glorification. “Christ invites his disciples to follow him by taking up their cross in their turn. By following him they acquire a new outlook on illness and the sick” teaches the Catechism of the Catholic Church. When I accept and live this truth everyday, then the word of Christ dwells in me more richly. (Colossians 3:16)

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