Jubilate (Easter 4) - 2013
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
April 21, 2013

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

All suffering is the result of sin. Without sin there would be no suffering. The boy who suffers the death of his dog suffers because of sin which brought death into the world. The girl who gets her heart broken suffers the sin that causes boys to break the hearts of girls. The suffering we endure is always because of sin. Sometimes the sin is obvious, like the sin of terrorists. And sometimes the sin isn’t so obvious, like when the boy suffers because his dog dies. But all suffering is the result of sin.

But there are two way to suffer sin. The one way to suffer sin is to suffer because of your sin. We suffer because of our sin when our sin causes us to loose our job or alienate our friends or when our sin destroys our marriage. This way of suffering, suffering because of our own sin, is what St. Peter calls just deserts. Those who suffer because of their own sins get what they deserve. It is no credit to you if you sin and suffer for it. That’s why we don’t really feel too bad about people get what they deserve.

Of course, we don’t get what we deserve. Because what we really deserve for our sins – our rebellion against God – isn’t simple shame among peers or jail time or a fine. What we really deserve is temporal death and eternal damnation. Repent. Repent of thinking that you don’t deserve that. That somehow you’ve been good enough to not really deserve the true wage of sin. Repent of merely saying the words, “I a poor miserable sinner,” and not truly confessing the truth of your sins. Repent of fearing the shame of men more than the wrath of God. For the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

But we also suffer the sin of others. Any child can tell you this as they have all had times when the whole class is punished because of the rebellion of one student. You have suffered because of the sins of others. You have suffered heart ache and anguish because of others. Like when your child has been the target of bullies and jerks. Or when you have been the target of bullies and jerks who have taken advantage of you and treated you shamefully.

How often we pray for the suffering to stop; for terrorists and criminals to be stopped and for us to live quiet lives in peace. How often we wonder why God allows us to suffer at the hands of evil and perverse men and women who are bent on destruction of others only to feed their own selfish desires. Not just terrorists in far away cities and countries, but those who have directly hurt you and caused you to suffer. Your friends that have betrayed you. Your families that have abandoned you and destroyed your peace. Our brothers and sisters that have abandoned the faith and left us. Those closest to you that have hurt you and mistreated you.

This is how Christ suffered. He suffered the sins of others. He suffered those who beat Him and mocked Him and treated Him shamefully. But He also suffered the just deserts of sinners. He absorbed the sin of the whole world, suffering death as a sinner so that He hung between two criminals, crucified as a criminal; counted among the transgressors. He suffered the fate of sinners as He was forsaken by God who gave Him over to death on the cross. He died a man well acquainted with grief; a man of sorrows.

But His suffering was not for His own sake. It was for your sake. Not to make you feel guilty that Jesus died for your sins, but to free you from guilt. He suffered unjustly in order to bring you into His glory. He lived and died and lives again for you, that you would know peace with God and would be counted as saints of God. He suffered to reconcile you to God. He suffered willingly because of His great love for you and for the Father. His suffering was born of our sins, yet His endurance was born of His great love.

And so you endure your suffering by the love of Christ. Your suffering is born of sin – your sins and the sins of others. But your endurance is born of the love of Christ. St. Paul writes that inasmuch as we are heirs with Christ of an eternal kingdom we suffer with Him in order that we might also be glorified with Him. So that just as His suffering was turned to joy because He suffered for those He loved, even those that hated and abused Him, so your suffering turns to joy because you suffer for those you love.

Just as the cross that Christ bore was for you and me and not Himself, so the crosses you bear are not for yourself but for others. We don’t suffer for our sake but for the sake of others so that they might see our faith as we put our trust and hope in God that He will deliver us from evil. Such is the faith and hope of Christ who committed Himself to God and was delivered. In His delivery from sin and death we have the sure and certain promise of our delivery from sin and death. You do not suffer for no purpose but to the glory of God who turns your suffering into joy when He gives to you those for whom you suffer.

Here is a mystery: you are the Body of Christ, your suffering is the suffering of Jesus who suffers that others may be glorified. Your suffering isn’t punishment for your sin and neither is it abandonment of God any more than Jesus suffered for His own sins and was abandoned by God. Rather, your suffering is meant to bring others into the kingdom of heaven that your joy may be full. Even as Christ suffered to bring you into the kingdom of heaven that His joy may be full.

+ In Nomine Iesu +