Any time we find ourselves in an emotional bind, experience a life-threatening illness, feel the weight of sadness and loss, or the alienating—sometimes chaotic—effects of sin in our lives, instinctively we all seek our refuge in Christ.
And this is how it should be, for Christ who healed the poor and the sick through his words and by his touch, does so even now: Because all the love with which Jesus lived his life in the service of God and others, with which he accepted his death, and which he poured out completely on the cross, the love which raised him from the dead—this is the very same love which God our Father everyday, in Christ, plants in our hearts, indeed in our very being, so as to produce in us the good fruits of the Kingdom.
We go nowhere without this love. We are never far from it and never out of its range, for just as we breathe to stay alive, so God breathes His love into us and through us, so that we and all others may live as He has given us to live: In peace.
It is in this love that we find our ultimate refuge, and that binds us to one another in our most difficult moments of suffering—especially in our mo-ments of acute suffering. And, since each of us, through the grace of our baptism, lives in complete union with Christ, each of us also forms a living, breathing embodiment of his redeeming love.
So when we console one another; when we counsel each other to remain present to what we are undergoing, and true to the Crucified-Risen Christ in all things; and when we remind each other that all we undergo we do so in Christ, for Christ, and with Christ, it is God Himself who is bringing forth from us, and from our suffering and our loss, more love: Love upon Love upon Love.
In our union with Christ and one another, God who is compassion pene-trates and imbues even our most persistent sadness, our deepest losses, and our greatest weaknesses and fears, with His serenity, which always then produces a calm stability, and a gracious humility in the face of the sometimes painful realities of our life.
It is then that we become what we have always been: a Holy Temple in which we offer the One True God, the Only One, the Holy One, a true sacri-fice, a true prayer, a lasting adoration.
It is then that, as St. Paul affirms in today’s passage from his Letter to the Colossians, “I [can] rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church…”
But does St. Paul really mean that Christ’s own sacrifice on the Cross and Christ’s resurrection from the dead, his Passion, is incomplete, imperfect? After all, Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross was offered once and for all and is never to be repeated. St. Peter attests to this in his letter (1 Peter 3:18) and we the Church believe, confess, and know this to be true.
When St. Paul wrote his letter he was an actual prisoner, in chains, with restricted movement, and he sensed that one day soon he might be called to join his death to Christ’s through martyrdom. But St. Paul’s love for his Colossian baptized brothers and sisters in the faith was so strong, and he wished them to know and love Jesus with all their heart as he did, that he was willing to offer even his dying, his suffering, so that they might all live, and love one another, in Christ, with Christ, and for Christ.
For us the baptized there is no other way to live: for us to live is always to live in Christ, for Christ and with Christ. For the baptized son or daughter of God there is no greater freedom than that which comes in Christ, with Christ, and for Christ.
Just as all of our Lord Christ’s living and dying was in the service of God and others, so our very life and our suffering can—when it is touched by God—be used by God to redeem the world of all its self-imposed imprison-ments: Of all its sins, all its fears, its prejudices, and all its apathy.
When God imbues and touches with His Love our very human sadness, our losses and great disappointments, and our sins, then it all becomes in our body and in our soul God’s most holy Wisdom, God’s limitless Mercy and instead of being lost, we are lead to God forever and ever.