Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Knox - 'He Suffered' - Pt. 5

THERE IS ANOTHER WAY IN WHICH you and I can turn this evil thing, suffering, into something good; and that is by uniting it with the sufferings of Jesus Christ. We saw that, when he made atonement for our sins, he made it in full. He was perfectly sinless, and therefore it was his right, if he had wished it, to live without suffering; it is only because we are all sinners that we have all got to be sufferers. But he, of his own will, took our punishment upon himself; he would be hungry, and thirsty, and tired out, on the roads of Galilee; and at the end of his life he would go through a long pageant of suffering, which ended with death on a Cross. And all the saints have realized that their job was to suffer in union with Christ. St. Paul even talks of himself as paying off "That which is lacking of the sufferings of Christ" (Col. 1:23b-24). He thinks of our Lord as a rich Benefactor who has paid off, once for all, the debt of suffering we owed, and now it is for us to pay back that debt to him, as far as we can, by enduring our own sufferings in union with him. So it is that you get this same curious contradiction about the saints' lives which you find in our Lord's own life; they are always relieving the sufferings of other people, and at the same time welcoming suffering for themselves. You've all heard of Bernadette Soubirous, who had the visions of our Lady at Lourdes, and scratched up with her own hands the spring of water which has brought health, since then, to so many thousands of people. She became a nun, and it was found, before long, that she was suffering from a very painful and an incurable disease. But there was one moment at which she seemed a little better, and even fit to travel; so the Reverend Mother of her convent came to her and said they had arranged a nice treat for her. She was to go back to Lourdes as a pilgrim and ask the beautiful Lady of her visions if she might not be cured among the rest - surely there could be no doubt that HER prayer would be listened to! But Bernadette immediately said, "No; the spring is not for me." The spring is not for me; it was her business, as a saint, to win healing for other people; it was her business as a saint to win not healing, but suffering, for herself. (Concludes in Pt. 6)

- Ronald A. Knox

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