Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Genesis 18:1-10 — Colossians 1:24-28 — Luke 10:38-42
July 18, 2010
click on the image above to read
the Scriptures for this Sunday
commentary on Colossians 1:24
(excerpted and edited)
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church….
60. [Saint Paul] is a faithful minister. This is obvious, because he does not run away from the dangers involved in his preaching.
First, he shows his attitude toward his sufferings; secondly, the fruit of his suffering (v. 24b).
His attitude was one of joy, because Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, that is, for your benefit: “If we are afflicted it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer” (2 Cor. 1:6). He also rejoices because of the joy of eternal life which he expects from them, and which is the fruit of his ministry: “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testimony of your faith produces steadfastness” (Jas 1:2), “Even if I am to be poured as a libation upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all” (Phil 2:17).
61. – And along with the above there is the fruit that in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. At first glance these words can be misunderstood to mean that the passion of Christ was not sufficient for our redemption, and that the sufferings of the saints were added to complete it. But this is heretical, because the blood of Christ is sufficient to redeem many worlds: “He is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn 2:2). Rather, we should understand that Christ and the Church are one mystical person, whose head is Christ, and whose body is all the just, for every just person is a member of this head: “individually members” (1 Cor. 12:27).
Now God in his predestination has arranged how much merit will exist throughout the entire Church, both in the head and in the members, just as he has predestined the number of the elect. And among these merits, the sufferings of the holy martyrs occupy a prominent place. For while the merits of Christ, the head, are infinite, each saint displays some merits in a limited degree. This is why he says, I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions, that is, what is lacking in the afflictions of the whole Church, of which Christ is the head. I complete, that is, I add my own amount; and I do this in my flesh, that is, it is I myself who am suffering. Or, we could say that Paul was completing the sufferings that were lacking in his own flesh. for what was lacking was that, just as Christ had suffered in his own body, so he should also suffer in Paul, his member, and in similar ways in others. And Paul does this for the sake of his body, which is the Church that was to be redeemed by Christ: “That he might present the Church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle” (Eph 5:27). In the same way all the saints suffer for the Church, which receives strength from their example. The Gloss says that “afflictions are still lacking, because the treasure house of the Church’s merits is not full, and it will not be full until the end of the world.”