We turn to the Lord for consolation and He resides in Heaven, but He continues to suffer in the members of His body.
We often turn to Jesus for consolation. Yet at times he too needs to be consoled for, beyond having borne our sins in his body on the cross, he continues to suffer in his members. But how to console God?
The feast of the Sacred Heart invites us to meditate on this “heart that so loved men that it spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself, in order to testify to its love,” according to Jesus’ words to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque. And, Jesus added, “In return, I receive from the greater part only ingratitude by their irreverence and sacrilege and by the coldness andd contempt they have for me in this sacrament of love” — the Eucharist.
But can we really console He who truly suffered two thousand years ago? How and why can we console He who now lives in heaven in eternal beatitude?
I looked for comfort, but I found none
The first question invites us to redefine the relationship between historical time and the eternal “present” of God. There is a mysterious contemporaneity between the events of Christ’s lifetime and our own in such a way that the historical event is part of our own reality. Thus the Eucharistic sacrifice makes the sacrifice of the cross truly present. What’s more, Scripture reminds us that Christ bore our sins in His body on the cross (cf. 1 Pt 2:24). This is why the Church has never forgotten that sinners themselves were the authors and instruments of all the sufferings endured by the divine Redeemer.
If it “was our infirmities that He bore, our sufferings that He endured” (Is 53:4), then we can understand that it is also our acts of love, our offerings, our “yes” which, conversely, can bring consolation and comfort to Christ suffering his Passion. Verse 21 of Psalm 68 deeply marked St. Teresa of Calcutta: “I looked for someone to comfort me, but found no one.” Next to that line, she wrote in her own hand: “Be that person!” Pope Pius XI thus concluded this reflection: “If, because of our future sins, the soul of Christ became sorrowful to the point of death, there is no doubt that from that moment on it receives some consolation from our acts of reparation. So that we can and should, even now, console the Sacred Heart.”
Christ continues to suffer in His members
And so our acts of love contribute to consoling Jesus for our sins which nailed Him to the cross. This consolation is especially realized in Eucharistic adoration, that holy hour in the presence of the “sacrament of the heart of Jesus.” And, as St. John Paul II said, “Now the Church seeks to recover that hour in Gethsemane–the hour lost by Peter, James, and John–so as to compensate for the Master’s lack of companionship which increased his soul’s suffering.”
To answer the second question, we must consider Christ as a whole person, mind and body. On falling to the ground, St. Paul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5). Jesus himself taught us, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40). Thus, Christ continues to suffer in his members, in all our brothers and sisters in humanity. So, the consolation of the Heart of Christ is communicated through our consolation of our brothers and sisters.
Father Nicolas Buttet