The notion that Christ's sufferings lacked anything (Col. 1:24) may strike some of us as borderline heresy; the idea is at least counterintuitive. One is very likely to ask, what is yet to be done? What is it that Saint Paul and the rest of us are expected to supply? Could it be ourselves?
The very heart of an efficacious faith, it seems to me now, is bound up precisely in our—watchfully—living into this mystery of what appears to be God's continuing desire for collaboration between himself and his creation.
The God-created world is an exceedingly wild place. Bad things happen to good people; good things happen to bad. And even setting aside the simply bad, there is also no shortage of downright evil, from which the good do not appear to be uniformly protected. "For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matt. 5:45). What kind of God is this?
And where, exactly, is our God in all of this?
What the fathers and mothers of the church have taught me is that inevitably each of us will, in one or a number of ways, partake of Christ's suffering, and that these experiences will help us apprehend all the more how we are joined to him and to each other.
As I write this, the holy, orthodox, catholic, and apostolic church—that would be the one mystical body of which we are all members, like it or not—is entering the season we call Great Lent. It is in some sense a self-imposed affliction, a deliberate suffering; it is in some sense a death. It is, nonetheless, a death attended by hope, a death that anticipates new life. We feel how it changes us. We are thereby led to a place where the noises, distractions, and false importance of the street—of our dissipated ...1
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