Salvifici Doloris: Part 2

In the first part we looked at the first half of Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris. In the first part things were defined and questions asked and answered. Here is the rest

As we pick up this Apostolic Letter as we ended the last section with a look at one of the Song of Suffering Servant from Isaiah. It’s the fourth one and it is a Messianic prophecy about Jesus John Paul II notes that it is through the Cross that Redemption is accomplished through suffering more over that human suffering is what has been redeemed For Christ, without any fault of his own took on himself “the total evil of sin”. He then looks into the New Testament and eloquently explains “If one becomes a sharer in the sufferings of Christ, this happens because Christ has opened his suffering to man, because he himself in his redemptive suffering has become, in a certain sense, a sharer in all human sufferings. Man, discovering through faith the redemptive suffering of Christ, also discovers in it his own sufferings; he rediscovers them, through faith, enriched with a new content and new meaning.” This continues with his Kingdom where we share in the suffering but it is redemption which can only be accomplished through satisfactory love. Which remains open to all love expressed in human suffering.

The sixth section looks at the Gospel of Suffering. This Gospel has been written by Mary and the Apostles through their experience of the Passion and Resurrection. Jesus was never shy that suffering would have to happen even saying that to follow you’d have to take up your cross and follow. This is the first chapter of the Gospel of Suffering and it is written on Jesus as when he is Resurrected he still bore the marks, which Thomas wanted to see. The Gospel is continually being written by those who suffer with Christ for it is in suffering where we are drawn closer to Christ, just look at anyone of the Saints and they all seem to have some suffering like Francis of Assisi who said “If we endure all things patiently and with gladness, thinking on the sufferings of our Blessed Lord, and bearing all for the love of Him: herein is perfect joy.”, or Ignatius of Loyola who said “If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint” and others who point to suffering into making them better people. The suffering become a joy through the salvific mission of Jesus. This is why Paul can write “I rejoice in my suffering for your sake” as it is only through our suffering that we unite ourselves with Christ to complete his suffering.

Pope John Paul II notes that the Parable of the Good Samaritan is surely a part of the Gospel of Suffering. As is show us how to approach things not to pass by but to stop and help out those in need even. Everyone who stops beside a person in need is a Good Samaritan, once again this is as it is uniquely put to unleash love in the human person. With so much hate in the world it would be wonderful if more people took some time to care about the other. Sure we’ve been given so many guidelines that society is crafted around the general idea that we need to do with the works of mercy. As Jesus says “what you did for the least of my brothers and sisters you have done for me.”   It’s all about compassion and our redemption is rooted to suffering. The letter is nicely concluded saying  “Together with Mary, who stood beneath the Cross,we pause beside all the crosses of contemporary man. We invoke all the Saints, who down the centuries in a special way shared in the suffering of Christ. We ask them to support us. And we ask all you who suffer to support us. We ask precisely you who are weak to become a source of strength for the Church and humanity. In the terrible battle between the forces of good and evil, revealed to our eyes by our modern world, may your suffering in union with the Cross of Christ be victorious!”

Let us take this Lenten season to take to heart the words of Pope John Paul II about how Suffering is linked to love. I hope that we all take this message to heart and try to bring it into a world were we continually see discord.

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Once again we are talking about food after the feeding of thousands and the eternal bread speech from last week I thought we might have met our fill but that’s not quite so yet. We begin in one of the historical books of the Bible, 1 Kings. We hear a story about Elijah, a prophet from the Northern Kingdom. Elijah has had enough “This is enough, O Lord take my life for I am no better than my father.” it reminds me of the Suscipe of Ignatius of Loyola, Elijah is asking the Lord to take it all from him. He lies down and falls asleep under a broom tree, but an angel comes and wakes Elijah up ordering him up. At Elijah’s head was a hearth cake and a jug of water, which Elijah was told to eat and drink he took a bit and a sip and then went back to sleep. The angel came back and ordered Elijah back up and he ate and drank and it strengthened Elijah and he set off the Mount Horeb, walking for 40 days and nights. This is a reminder for us of the Manna that the Lord sent from heaven Elijah has given up, just like the Israelites in the desert and the Lord sends sustenance. Ignatius in his Suscipe says “All I have and call my own, You have given to me; to you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will.” He only asks for the Lord’s love and grace in return.

In the Psalm we sing about tasting and seeing the goodness of the Lord. Turning to the second reading we are still hearing from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, and Paul tells them “to live in love as Christ loved us” this mean being there to sacrifice ourselves for others like Christ did. For so many of us sure we love one another but are we willing to do anything for others or do we love as in the more general sense which the word means currently something akin to a strong like.

Finally we reach John’s Gospel where we continue by skipping like five verses from the end of last week’s reading. This is a funny worded section as it starts with the Jews murmuring, but that’s just the crowd that heard Jesus say “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” If I were in the crowd I would be questioning what he means by this. Jesus calms them down and quotes the prophets “They will all be taught by the Lord.” Then Jesus goes to the extreme and says that whoever eats of the living bread will live forever and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” Then you’ve got to wait till next week for the continuation of the story. Giving ones flesh is the ultimate sacrifice and as it is everything that we have. Just as Elijah is strengthened by the hearth cake so to should we be with the Eucharist as it is the bread from heaven and should feed our spiritual needs as it is the bread from heaven which has been given to us for eternal life, through the love of Christ and the Father.