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Contemplations on the Sufferings of Christ

Contemplations on the Suffering's of Christ - St Shenouda Monastery Pimonakhos Articles

The most useful thing in our spiritual life is for us to reflect on suffering, and in particular the sufferings of Christ. Meditation in suffering lifts up the spirit. It lifts the spirit above the level of worldly desires. Therefore, when one is in the state of suffering, usually his/her spirit is stronger, spiritually deeper and often detached from the love of the world. When we are in the state of joy we may feel cheerful and happy that the world is on our side but during times of suffering and pain we feel that the love of the world has disappeared from our hearts.

Therefore, it is easier for the sick person to draw closer to God. When a person is sick and experiencing suffering and pain they can accept to hear about and talk about God, loves to pray and asks people to pray for them and the word of God is always on their lips, more than in the case of good health.

Likewise, the person who is experiencing hardship and sadness or any sort of graveness, their heart is usually far from the lusts of the world and materialistic things. Perhaps the Lord allows such suffering because it may be beneficial to our spirit if handled wisely. Those who visit tombstones benefit from just looking at images of death and remember lost friends and loved ones; this gives them a deeper understanding and a deeper spiritual life.

There are many stories of Saints who benefited greatly from death. Saint Anthony the Great benefited spiritually from the death of his father. Also, he lived the first few years of his monastic life in a grave. Saint Macarious the Great used to keep a skull in his cell and would rest on it while sleeping.

Just the mention of death can be of benefit to the heart of a wise man. What about the mention of Christ’s death and His suffering? Therefore during Holy Week, believers are more spiritually deep. Suffering is the most significant contemplation that we must meditate on in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Cross is our Christian motto, a symbol of suffering. The Cross encompasses the depth of the physical suffering (pain) of Christ. It impacts our souls more than any other event in the glorious life of our Lord. There is no doubt that every event in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ impacts us, but the image of the Cross is the most influential one. It was said that when Gandhi, the well-known Indian leader, stood before the image of the crucifixion, he was deeply moved by it in spite of being a Hindu.

The Angel of Resurrection focused on the sentence, “The Crucified”, so he said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here for He is risen.” (Matthew 28:5-6). He called Him “crucified” even after His resurrection and He continued to be called “the crucified”, as St Paul said, “For indeed Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us.” (1 Corinthians 5-7). Also, St. John said about Him, “And in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain.” (Revelation 5:6). St. John also said that he heard the, “Voice of many angels saying, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom. And strength and honour and glory and blessing.’” (Revelation 5:12). Thus, we see that the Bible focused on Christ’s suffering even in the Book of Revelation. This shows us that Christ’s suffering is not only the earthly subject of contemplation, but also the heavenly.

All His suffering is recorded in the Bible, not only the events of the Cross, but many other events in His life on earth. His suffering was not only one week, but throughout His ministry and even since His birth. Divine inspiration summarised the life of our Lord in the flesh in the following deep, focused sentence which described Him as, “A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3).