Salvifici Doloris – Week 3
Week Three: God’s Only Begotten Son
Overview: In the next section of Salvifici Doloris, Pope Saint John Paul II turns our attention away from our experience of suffering and towards the suffering of Jesus Christ.
A Taste of Part I: A Mission of Love
God gives His only-begotten Son so that man “should not perish” and the meaning of these words “should not perish” is precisely specified by the words that follow: “but have eternal life.” ~John Paul II
Jesus of Nazareth literally died, literally willed his own murder and death, to resuscitate our lives on the last day. If this is true, then every circumstance, every cross, every suffering is radically reoriented to bring about our good.
A Taste of Part II: The New Adam
A definitive summing-up of the destructive work both in the bodily organism and in the psyche. But death primarily involves the dissolution of the entire psychophysical personality of man…the evil which the human being experiences in death has a definitive and total character. ~John Paul II
Sanctifying grace (given to us first at our Baptism and then maintained in all the sacraments)—without which we are unable to be in a supernatural relationship with God—is a participation in His life here and now as a foretaste of the complete union of eternity. The experience of perfection manifested in the resurrected body, as St. Thomas Aquinas illuminates, will be radiant (Matthew 13:43), agile (1 Cor. 15:43), subtle (1 Cor. 15:44), and impassible (1 Cor. 15:42). (To study what St. Thomas illuminates regarding bodies of the damned, click here.)
A Taste of Part III: The Mind of Christ
Precisely by means of his Cross he must accomplish the work of salvation. This work, in the plan of eternal Love, has a redemptive character… Christ goes toward his own suffering, aware of its saving power; he goes forward in obedience to the Father, but primarily he is united to the Father in this love with which he has loved the world and man in the world. ~John Paul II
God never intended evil and therefore he never intended us to suffer. However, this is the place we find ourselves either due to the evil caused by the original sin or the personal sins of ourselves or our neighbors. What I find so incredible about Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 26:39, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt,” is that he first asks to be relieved of the suffering. We too should do everything in our power to avoid unreasonable and unnecessary suffering.
For Reflection & Prayer:
“Let it be done to me according to Your word,” on the Virgin’s lips, is the same as, “Lord, Your will be done,” on the lips of Christ. The correspondence between the Angelus and the Cross lies in the fact that both say, “Let it be done to me according to Your word.” This is the gesture of obedience in its pure essentiality. Its pure essentiality makes you tear away from something that God asks–to then pass through a cross and resurrection from which a limitless fecundity springs forth, a fecundity whose boundary is the boundary of God’s plan. ~Fr. Luigi Giussani, The Sorrowful Mysteries
Have you experienced profound fruitfulness born from obedience in suffering?
For further study: Walter Ciszek’s “Extraordinary Testament of Faith” after spending 23 years in Soviet Gulags He Leadeth Me.