Monday, October 24, 2011

Suffer With Him

October 24. 2011

Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, "Abba, Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:15-17

"Does not each one of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering? This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the Sabbath day from this bondage?" Luke 13:15-16


Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O Lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and thy grace, for this is sufficient for me. (Ignatius Loyola)


Slavery. Bondage. Not the kinds of imagery of a life devoted to exercising our free will. However, St. Paul is teaching us that life depends upon HOW and to what END we exercise that freedom. Take the Gospel example. The woman in this story was a slave to her infirmity. She bore its yolk for 18 years until Christ freed her from its bondage. However, the leader of the synagogue remained in bondage to his closed mind. He wanted to control when the Lord could provide the gift of salvation. He did not want people to be freed on the Sabbath.

Isn't the Sabbath the day that we are supposed to be freed from the preoccupations of the world in order to devote time to the Lord? Maybe that is my modern viewpoint but it was not shared with the temple elders in ancient Palestine.

The salvation that the Lord delivers -- be it from sin, from illness, from social conditions, or whatever afflicts us -- is delivered unconditionally yet upon one condition. We share in salvation freely when we also share in the Passion of the Lord. St. Paul reminds us that we are children of God "if only we suffer with Christ."


Do we think compassion is a one-way street? Compassion is what we feel when we share in the emotional, physical, or spiritual suffering of another. Christ looked at us with compassion. He gave and gave and gave until he had nothing left to give us. Then, as Christ hung on the cross by three nails, he looked down at us with even more compassion and gave us His own mother.

Now it is our time to live with the same kind of passion to help others.

It might be easy for us to dismiss the references to slavery and bondage to metaphorical realms. However, there remains in the world a serious problem with enslavement of women and children -- including in the United States. According to the US Department of Justice, there are as many as 17,000 persons who are victims of human trafficking in the US each year. Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others. The victims are transported to be exploited -- perhaps through prostitution or forced labor. There are many ideas about how people like you and I can assist in this effort. Learn more about modern slavery/human trafficking and some of the suggestions for action here: