Good Friday to Easter
During the Good Friday sermons in church I have been hearing again and again about the sufferings of Christ for salvation of mankind.
I heard a preacher quoting St.Paul in Colossians 1:24 -“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church”.
So is there anything lacking in Christ\’s suffering? I ask myself and I’m very confused by this verse. I don\’t understand the true meaning of this verse, likewise may be many people like me may get confused.
What did St.Paul mean by his statement?
At the outset, let me make it clear that I am not worthy to correct or criticize the statement of St.Paul. I have been searching for a straight simple answer which I couldn\’t find and comprehend. Everyone seems beating around the bush justifying Paul\’s statement.
As a firm believer in Christ, I am totally convinced that Christ\’s work is finished, complete, and sufficient. It was a perfect sacrifice but was it complete? I thought Christ accomplished all necessary for salvation. We know Jesus completed His mission on the cross, when He uttered “everything completed”. Nothing is lacking in the afflictions of Christ. Jesus has done it all and He\’s done it forever. We can\’t add anything more to salvation by our works or our penance, by self-denial or sacraments or sacrifice.
Then why is St. Paul considering Christ’s afflictions lacking in some way? And how does Paul’s own suffering make up for this lacking? Is Paul setting himself up as a co-redemptor? He knows he is not the Savior. He asks the Corinthian -were you baptized in the name of Paul, was Paul crucified for you?
May be St.Paul is boasting and finding joy in his suffering. Many of us do that at times of suffering. Paul kept on boasting about his suffering, that he was beaten several times beyond number, continually faced death, he had been lashed, shipwrecked, in dangers from Jews and Gentiles, threatened in city and country, hungry, thirsty, cold, exposed etc. But all the afflictions he says endured for the sake of the church, all the afflictions he experienced in his own flesh, were not his own, but Christ\’s, Christ the Head suffering in the Body. Paul considers his own suffering as the visible reenactment of the sufferings of Christ so that they will see Christ\’s love for them.
We all have suffering. Whenever each of us carries our small portion of Christ\’s Cross, our suffering joins in Christ\’s work of salvation. God gives us the opportunity to offer our suffering up for the salvation of others in the same way that Christ offered himself up for the salvation of all. So we too fill up the sufferings of Christ as we share His afflictions. What is lacking is that the infinite values of Christ\’s afflictions are not known in the world. God’s answer to this lack is to call the people of Christ people like Paul (and the so called “Christians”) you and me to present the afflictions of Christ to the worldâ€”to carry them from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Till today Christ\’s suffering is a mystery to many people and God’s intention is that the mystery be revealed, extended to all the people in this world. Are we doing anything to fill that “lack”?
All belongs to Him
Whatever afflictions we suffer, whatever pain, whatever loss, whatever weakness, Jesus has claimed that too. It all belongs to Him. Jesus doesn\’t just want the best parts of us but our weakness also. He claims them, so let Him have them, and know that our afflictions are Christ\’s afflictions working out in our flesh.