March 16, 2008

Redemption through Suffering

The image of the crucified Christ, which is the focal point of the liturgy of Good Friday, makes us realize the true seriousness of human misery, human aloneness, human sin. Yet, throughout all the centuries of Church history, it has constantly been regarded as an image of consolation and hope. The Isenheim Altar of Matthias Grunewald, which is, prehaps the most moving painting of the crucifixtion to be found in all Christendom, was located in a monestary of the Antonian Hospitalers, who cared for victims of the terrible plauges that afflicted the West during the late Middle Ages. The crucified Jesus is depicted as one of these victims; his whole body is disfigured by the boils of bubonic plauge, the most terrible of the pestilence of that time ... This painting made them realize that precisely by reason of their sickness they were identified with the crucified Christ, who, by his suffering, had become one with all the suffering of history; they felt the presence of the Crucified One in their cross and knew that, in their distress, they were drawn into union with Christ and hence into the abyss of his eternal mercy. They experienced his cross as their redemption ... Instead of divine consolation, they want changes that will redeem suffering by removing it; not redemption through suffering, but redemption from suffering is their watchword; not expectation of divine assistance, but the humanization of man by man is their goal.
~Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XIV

The Seventh Word: It is fineshed

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