Archdiocese of Chicago

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Filling up what is lacking…

When St. Paul writes about “filling up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ” (Col. 1:24), a believer has to ask: what could possibly be lacking?  Christ’s passion, death and resurrection have definitively and completely conquered sin and death—what is left?

What is lacking is only our free cooperation in the mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection.  God, who created us to be free, will not force us to be holy.  Always with the help of God’s grace, we have to enter freely into union with the Lord for our salvation and that of the whole world, as members of Christ’s body.

I recently read a memoir by the late Pope John Paul II’s personal physician.  The medical doctor outlines the many illnesses and accidents that caused the Pope a great deal of suffering.  Always, he offered himself and his sufferings to the Lord, praying for the Church he governed as successor of St. Peter.  Beyond the sufferings that came to him, he voluntarily practiced penance, sometimes in ways that seem strange to our times but which are part of the arsenal of the Church through the ages, developed to overcome evil and prevent Satan from tempting us to misuse our freedom.  These are practices that should again enter into the life of faith so that we can freely cooperate in filling up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI

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