Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Identifying with Christ's Sufferings

When Your heart is thus established in Christ, and you are an enemy of sin, out of love and not out of fear of punishment, Christ's sufferings should also be an example for your whole life, and you should meditate on the same in a different way . . . If a day of sorrow or sickness weighs you down, think, how trifling that is compared with the thorns and nails of Christ.  If you must do or leave undone what is distasteful to you: think, how Christ was led hither and thither, bound and a captive.  Does pride attack you: behold, how your LORD was mocked and disgraced with murderers.  Do unchastity and lust thrust themselves against you: think, how bitter it was for Christ to have have his tender flesh torn, pierced and beaten again and again.  Do hatred and envy war against you, or do you seek vengeance: remember how Christ with many tears and cries prayed for you and all his enemies, who indeed had more reason to seek revenge.  If trouble or whatever adversity of body or soul afflict you, strengthen your heart and say: Ah, why then should I not also suffer a little since my LORD sweat blood in the garden because of anxiety and grief?

One can thus find in Christ strength and comfort against all vice and bad habits . . . And they are called true Christians who incorporate the life and name of Christ into their own life, as St. Paul says in Galatians 5:24: "And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof."  For Christ's Passion must be dealt with not in words and a show, but in our lives and in truth . . . But this kind of meditation is now out of use and very rare, although the Epistles of St. Paul and St. Peter are full of it.  We have changed the essence into a mere show, and painted the meditation of Christ's sufferings only in letters and on walls.

-- Martin Luther, How to Contemplate Christ's Holy Sufferings

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