Friday, February 2, 2007

1. Jesus of Nazareth Knows Our Sufferings

Jesus of Nazareth was both fully divine and fully human, “like us in all things but sin.” So, Jesus of Nazareth experienced human life as we experience it. As the Risen Christ who sits in Glory at the Father’s right hand, he knows how human beings suffer at human hands because he suffered at human hands too. Scripture affirms this fundamental likeness between the Risen Christ and us and comes to an extraordinary conclusion:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who is every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin…Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16).

As a good Jew, Jesus of Nazareth loved God, family and neighbor. He spoke out against injustice, unkindness and dishonesty. He gave hope to the poor, the disenfranchised, and the alien. He criticized religious leaders who not only failed to respond to injustice, but who only congratulated themselves on being “religious” and so superior. Jesus was a whistleblower, an activist, and animator, what Scripture calls a prophet.

Inevitably, people misunderstood him and failed to respond to him, took him for granted, and even deserted him. Religious leaders condemned him and plotted against him. And he responded as you and I might under the same circumstances:

He lost his ability to help people when confronted by their lack of willingness to be helped, their cynicism and skepticism. “He was amazed at their unbelief” (Mark 6:1-6).

He was “grieved at the hardness of heart” of leaders who failed to respond to human need (Mark 3:1-5).

He was angry with the moneychangers in the temple who turned work of moral worth into self-promotion and self-satisfaction (John 2:13-17).

He felt fear at the prospect of his betrayal, passion and crucifixion (John 12:27; 13:21) and mostly notably in the Garden when he sweated drops of blood (Luke 22:44).

Now, translate the formal language of Scripture into the words of our own experience:

Have you become discouraged in your attempts to be helpful because people doubt your intentions or your ideas, say, in your family or your parish?

Have you seen official indifference to people’s suffering (think: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans)?

Have you seen powerful people hurt “average” people for their own gain (think: Enron)?

Have you been afraid to make a decision in your family or at work for fear of disapproval and threats?

Notice how similar our experience of human life is to his. This means that we can trust in him to “know our weaknesses” because he experienced weakness and opposition. “So let us approach the throne of grace with boldness,” because Jesus of Nazareth knows our sufferings.

1 comment:

MICKY said...

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 2004, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages . God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & guilt, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].