Summary: During this Lenten season we are asked to reflect on our Saviour’s suffering, death and resurrection. We are asked in some ways to walk with the one who suffered for us.
Seeds for Sowing, Vol. VI, Issue 2, No. 14
Second Sunday of Lent- Year A
February 24, 2002
* Gen. 12:1-4
* 2 Tim: 1:8-10
* Mt. 17: 1-9
Walking with the Suffering Christ
Less Than Whole
At the Nicene Council, an important church meeting in the 4th century A.D., of the 318 delegates attending, fewer than 12 had not lost an eye, or lost a hand, or did not limp on a leg lamed by torture for their Christian faith. No this is not a piece of trivia for you to throw around at your next party. It’s a very real part of our tradition. Those who follow Jesus suffer for their faith. Perhaps this is not the good news you wanted to hear today, but it is very much connected with being a follower of Jesus.
During this Lenten season we are asked to reflect on our Saviour’s suffering, death and resurrection. We are asked in some ways to walk with the one who suffered for us. In Paul’s letter to Timothy he sends out this invitation:
Brothers and sisters: Join with me in suffering for the gospel. Relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling.
The Good News can bring hardship. Many of us continue to be surprised at this fact. We still naively think that if we are doing God’s will, then we will not have to suffer. It’s true that we probably wouldn’t put it that way. We wouldn’t say: I’m going to be free from any suffering or hardship because I follow Jesus. But somewhere inside of ourselves, we may think that it is unjust or not fair that we have to endure hardships just because we are Christians. And, of course, these hardships vary from person to person, and even from time to time in the life of the same person.
Good News Bringing Tough Times
In our own time what are some of the hardships we may have to experience if we want to remain faithful to our Christian calling? In recent years especially, there seems to be a move away from automatically accepting a promotion which would entail uprooting a family and moving to a distant city or town. Many men and women have come to the realization that their commitment to take care of their family entails much more than just a financial commitment. Packing up and moving on can take a toll on people that is, at times, devastating. Our Christian responsibility demands that we look at all sides of the question when it comes to our calling in life. The man and woman who have chosen marriage, have also chosen to make decisions that are life-giving for each other and for their children.
Of course, not accepting a promotion, is only one of a thousand decisions that people with family responsibilities must make. There are so many things that arise almost daily in family life that calls for sacrifice and compromise. Our following of Christ doesn’t make those decisions easier, but it does help us to carry out difficult decisions that have hardship of some kind attached to them. There are thousands of husbands and wives who stay with their spouses through sickness and disasters because they have pledged to love in good times and bad. They have remained faithful to their marriage vows, even when it would be easier to simply walk out. That is real love.
Loving Our Neighbour --At All Cost
When Jesus asked us to love our neighbour as ourselves, he knew exactly what he was asking. This constant loving of those in need can require a great deal of us. Some people, because of their belief that we are all responsible for each other, have adopted simpler lifestyles. They do this so that they can channel more of their financial resources to those who truly and desperately need them. Think of all the time that people give to volunteer work because they see the needs around them, and want to respond in some way to those needs.
Others, especially in the medical profession, have had to refrain from certain jobs because in conscience they cannot participate in operations or procedures which would end the lives of the unborn. Some give up promising careers because they cannot agree with unjust policies at their workplaces, or the unfair use of underpaid employees.The list goes on and on. What is important for us today is to recognize that we are not alone in any suffering or hardship that we endure because of our Christian belief. Our Lord is there with us, giving us his strength and holding us up.
We don’t directly choose to suffer. To choose to suffer means that there is something wrong; to choose God’s will, even if it means suffering, is a very different thing. No healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he or she chooses God’s will, as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not.