Fill Up What is Lacking in Christ’s Afflictions

by | Apr 9, 2019 | Formation, Reflections

On the cross, the one who bears our sufferings carries out fully our redemption.  And to gaze at him mournfully and prayerfully is to pledge to fill up in our flesh what is lacking in his afflictions (see Col 1, 24).

It is not that the work of Christ is not enough (see The New Jerome Biblical Commentary [1990] 54:16).  To fill up what is lacking means bearing rather one’s share of hardships for the Gospel (see 2 Tim 1, 8).  Or, as Augustine puts it, our sufferings are missing, considering that we are members of Christ’s body.  So, they have to be added.

In other words, looking at the cross to honor it commits us to “all types of suffering” (SL.EN:775).  It means, then, heeding Jesus’ call to take up our cross and follow him in bringing the Gospel to the poor.

And the world hates those who truly belong to Jesus, for it hates him first (Jn 15, 18-20).  Worldly people beset him, and so they do the same to his servants.  They rebuke him, too, and his followers.  So, needless to say, haters fill up what is lacking in their ancestors’ measure (Mt. 23, 32).

Moreover, they cannot stand Jesus calling them hypocrites, children of the Father of lies.  His followers, then, who call out lies have to bear the brunt of the anger of the forces of darkness.

Nor can liars bear the new that Jesus and his disciples bring in and their questioning of traditional practices.  They do not want either to have anything to do with addressing women and giving them their due.  With giving also a hearing and even hope to common criminals and asking forgiveness, moreover, for the guilty.

And wholly odd to them is the “authority” that does not lord it over others, but serves and obeys to death.  To self-emptying and helpless death on a cross.  Yet only such self-emptying can fill us; this helplessness takes us out of the rut of sin, suffering, death.

Lord Jesus, we recall at your Supper that we live in you through your death and must die in you through your life (SV.EN I:276).  Make us hunger and thirst for your righteousness, so that we may have our fill.

14 April 2019
Palm Sunday (C)
Lk 19, 28-40; Is 50, 4-7; Phil 2, 6-11; Lk 22, 14 – 23, 56