Friday, January 20, 2012

CHRISTIAN UNITY: Day 3 - Changed by the Suffering Servant

Day 3
Theme: Changed by the Suffering Servant
Text :
Christ suffered for us (cf. 1 Pt 2:21)

Is 53:3-11
The man of sorrows accustomed to suffering
Ps 22: 12-24
He did not despise the affliction of the of the afflicted
1Pt 2:21-25
Christ suffered for us
Lk 24:25-27
Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things?


The divine paradox is that God can change tragedy and disaster into victory. He transforms all our sufferings and misfortunes, and the enormity of history’s pain, into a resurrection that encompasses the whole world. While appearing to be defeated, He is nevertheless the true Victory whom no one and nothing can overcome. 

Isaiah’s moving prophecy about the suffering Servant of the Lord was completely fulfilled in Christ. After suffering enormous agony, the Man of Sorrows shall see His offspring. We are that offspring, born from the Saviour’s suffering. In this way we are made one family in Him. 

One can say that Psalm 22 is not only about Jesus, but also for Jesus. The Saviour Himself prayed this psalm on the cross, when He used its desolate opening words: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Yet in the second part of the psalm the lamentation, the imploring full of pain, changes into praise of God for His works. 

The apostle Peter is a witness of the sufferings of Christ (1 Pt 5,1), which he presents to us as an example: it is to this suffering for the sake of love we are called. Jesus did not curse God, but submitted to Him who judges righteously. His wounds have healed us, and returned us all to the one Shepherd. 

Only in the light of the presence of the Lord and His word does the divine purpose of the Messiah’s sufferings become clear. Just as for the disciples on the way to Emmaus, Jesus is our constant companion on the stony road of life, stirring our hearts and opening our eyes to the mysterious plan of salvation. 

Christians experience suffering as a result of humanity’s fragile condition; we recognise this suffering in social injustice and situations of persecution. The power of the cross draws us into unity. Here we encounter Christ’s suffering as the source of compassion for and solidarity with the entire human family. As one contemporary theologian puts it: the closer we come to the cross of Christ, the closer we come to one another. The witness of Christians together in situations of suffering assumes remarkable credibility. In our shared solidarity with all who suffer we learn from the crucified suffering servant the lessons of self-emptying, letting go and self-sacrifice. These are the gifts we need from His Spirit on our way to unity in Him.

God of consolation, you have transformed the shame of the cross into a sign of victory. Grant that we may be united around the Cross of your Son to worship Him for the mercy offered through his suffering. May the Holy Spirit open our eyes and our hearts, so that we may help those who suffer to experience your closeness. ; You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen. 

Questions for reflection
  1. How can our faith help us in our response to long-lasting suffering?
  2. What areas of human suffering are unnoticed and belittled today?
  3. How can Christians bear witness together to the power of the cross?

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