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Friday, 12 May 2017

Writings of St. Augustine -- The Sufferings of Christ


St. Augustine, bishop
St. Augustine, bishop
From a commentary on the psalms

The sufferings of Christ are not in Christ alone

Jesus Christ is one man with head and body, the Savior of the body and the members of the body, two in one flesh, in one voice, in one passion, and, when wickedness has passed away, in one state of rest.  





The sufferings of Christ are therefore 
not in Christ alone; 
yes, but the sufferings of Christ are only in Christ.

               
If by Christ you mean both head and body, the sufferings of Christ are only in Christ.  But if by Christ you mean only the head, then the sufferings of Christ are not in Christ alone.  For if the sufferings of Christ are in Christ alone, how can the apostle Paul, as a member of Christ, say this: That I may fill up in my flesh what is lacking of the sufferings of Christ?

If then you are among the members of Christ, whatever human being you are, whoever you are that hears this, whoever you are that does not hear this (but if you are among the members of Christ you do hear this), whatever you suffer at the hands of those who are not among the members of Christ was lacking to the sufferings of Christ.

Your sufferings are added because they were lacking.  
You fill up a measure; 
you do not pour something that overflows.  

You suffer as much as needed 
to be added from your sufferings 
to the total suffering of Christ, 
who suffered as our head, and
 suffers in his members, that is, in ourselves.

Each one of us in his own measure 
pays his debt to what may be called 
this commonwealth of ours.  

In proportion to our store of strength we contribute as it were a tax of suffering.  The final reckoning of all suffering will not take place until the world has come to an end.

Do not then imagine, brethren that all the just who suffered persecution at the hands of the wicked, even those who were sent to foretell the coming of the Lord before he came, did not belong to the members of Christ.  God forbid that one who belongs to the city which has Christ for king should not belong to the members of Christ.

In the blood of Abel, the just one, the whole city speaks, and so on until the blood of Zechariah.  From then, it is the same city that goes on speaking in the blood of John (the Baptist), in the blood of the apostles, in the blood of the martyrs, in the blood of Christ’s faithful people.


Taken from the Liturgy of the Hours, According to the Roman Rite, Ordinary Time, Catholic Book Publishing Corp.  New York, 1975