If you were attentive to and meditative on the long story of Jesus’ Passion, you would have assimilated many homilies. Anything long from me would have been redundant and an added another cross for you. So, just a short point.
It is natural that we avoid looking at anything ugly, e.g., a dirty beggar crouched in a doorway along the road, a severely deformed body of a car accident, a dilapidated haunted house, etc. Yet, we are somehow fascinated with the morbid. This is why horror movies attract crowds and ONLY the movie makers get tons of money out of our fascination with the gruesome. Mel Gibson made pots of money from his movie “The Passion” in which he purposely depicted the macabre suffering of Christ. He got his rolls of money too. Our human weaknesses are always being exploited by “money-makers.”
The reasons why we are fascinated with the morbid is because we see this reflected daily in our own experiences and in the experiences of people of our community, of our country and around the world. We take consolation that others too suffer what we undergo. Besides, through seeing the morbid movie, we somehow hold a secret wish that the movie might contain some solution for us. One thing is sure. Identifying with the movie, we experience what the Greeks found out long ago: we get a, using the Greek word, kathareuon experience; the noun is katharsis, i.e., a “purifying” experience. Purified of our fears, the Greeks thought that we would go out to be better persons.
But for us Christians, this is not what the suffering, agony, passion and death of Jesus Christ is to us. It is something else altogether. We enter into the suffering, passion, death and resurrection of Christ, so that we have joy and hope in these morbid scenes. Jesus turns the murderous act of His enemies into saving grace for the whole world. So we hope that Our Lord will turn what is evil to become good for “those who love Him.” (Rm 8:28)
And Jesus Christ is still suffering with and through us because He has assumed our human nature. He rose and ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father with our human body and nature.
The Catholic French philosopher, Paul Claudel, wrote, “Christ did not come to take away our suffering but to fill it with His presence.” The famous 20th Century Catholic theologian, Karl Rahner, spoke of Jesus in this fashion, “There is no darkness in which God does not live; no void that is not filled to its depths with Him.” In his letter to the Colossians chapter 1 verse 24, St. Paul writes: “Even now I find my joy in the suffering I endure for you. In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the suffering of Christ for the sake of His body, the Church.” Final quotation. The author of the letter to the Hebrews writes about Jesus Christ as follows: “For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning.” (Heb 4:15) The Greek word for sympathize is sumpathesai. It is composed of two words, sum which means “with” and pathesai, which means “to suffer.” If we join our suffering with Christ, HE will turn it into saving grace for ourselves and others.
Christ as fully God and Man still suffers with us suffering and turns it into redemptive or saving graces for our and others’ salvation.
What a consolation, what a relief and what a joy to know that our small suffering is of some use to help ourselves and OTHERS towards salvation!