October 18, 2015
Isaiah the prophet, 700 years before Christ, spoke of a suffering servant (Is. 53: 4, 10 – 11) . We see that suffering servant in Jesus Christ. He is crushed. He accepted our infirmities and diseases. It was not for his sins, for he was sinless, but for the sins of mankind. Because he fulfilled the divine will by willingly suffering for the sins of others, the servant will be rewarded by the Lord. The reward is that through his suffering we are healed.
The irony of suffering is that it can be good. One who suffers the most for others is the greatest. When the sufferer does it as a willing sacrifice the suffering becomes a joy and the beneficiaries of that suffering appreciate him/her better.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews (Heb. 4:14-16) tells us that we have a High Priest, Jesus Christ, who have gone through the temptations, but not sin, and sufferings, and be able to understand our weaknesses. He is the source of heavenly grace for us. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and timely help.
The ambitious request of the disciples (Mark 10:35-45) to grant prominent places at the right and left of Jesus in his kingdom gave an occasion for Jesus to clarify what it means to be great. He calls for a reversal of the way things work in the world. For Jesus, one who wants to be great must be ready to serve others, and to suffer for the gospel and for God’s kingdom. The higher the rank the greater the duty to serve. He insists that suffering is part of his life and the life of his followers. Disciples John and James pledge their readiness to drink the cup and accept the baptism of the Lord. Did they understand the real significance of it then? Probably not. However, Jesus assures them that they will share his cup and baptism, that is his suffering and death, and that they did share later.
Like Jesus who gave his whole life for others, true believers are called to share all they have with those in need. Time, talents, material possessions are all gifts to be freely and lovingly dispensed at the service of others. Be assured that Jesus will not forget to take account of our small acts of service.