Friday, February 06, 2004

Suffering is Good?

For the real issue here is not so much the plurality of religions and the heightened sensitivity to cultural and religious imperialism. Much weightier is what church proclamation says validates the claims of the historical Jesus: that he plumbed the depths of the world's sufferings. That is today's Provocation. St Paul says, "this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" (2 Corinthians 4: 17). But as Balthasar readily concedes in the fifth volume of the Theo-Drama, "To someone who is really suffering, Paul's words on the relationship between earthly suffering and heavenly joy are hardly to be endured." And yet, with St. Paul, and based on his own theology of Holy Saturday, Balthasar will go on to claim that suffering is something good. In a modern utilitarian world, whose ethic is largely based on a pleasure-pain calculus, such words will provoke outrage. But Scripture does not flinch from boasting of suffering. "I consider that the sufferings of this present age", says St. Paul, "are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8: 18)

-Edward T. Oakes, No Bloodless Myth

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