Catholic News Service
When Christians participate in a work of mercy they do so in imitation of Christ, who in his lifetime either performed the work himself or taught the importance of doing so. In the spiritual work of mercy that tells us to “bear wrongs patiently,” we have the opportunity to live out Jesus’ behavior toward others, even those who wrong us.
During his passion, Jesus experienced a variety of foul treatment. He was stripped naked in public, ridiculed and forced to wear a crown of thorns that were embedded into his head. Some people spat on him, buffeted him about the head and abused him in many other ways.
The final indignity was being forced to carry his cross through the streets of Jerusalem where he was mocked by the crowds that recently had chanted his name in honor. And then he dealt with the indignity of being crucified although he was guilty of no crime.
Throughout all of this abuse, Jesus remained silent. He did not complain about how he had been treated. He did not whine or complain that he had gotten a rotten deal, and neither did he become indignant and blame someone else for his troubles.
Yes, he did ask to be spared of the suffering during his prayer in the garden: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me” but he ended the prayer accepting what the Father had willed for him: “yet, not as I will, but as you will” (Mt 26:39.)
In his suffering Jesus was seen to fulfill the teaching about the suffering servant that is found in the Book of Isaiah. This servant of God (Is 50:6) gave his “back to those who beat me” and willingly offered his “cheeks to those who tore out my beard. My face I did not hide from insults and spitting.”
Like the suffering servant, Jesus “did not refuse, did not turn away” because “the Lord God opened my ear” (Is 50:5).
Bearing wrongs patiently is not an easy thing to do for anyone, not even Jesus. He was only able to do so because of his confidence in God, which was rooted in a deep and rich life of prayer.
As Isaiah 50:7 explains it, “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; Therefore I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”
If we are to bear wrongs patiently we must take on the same attitude that Jesus had, as St. Paul prescribes in Philippians 2:5-11. We must be willing to swallow our pride and allow ourselves to be humiliated for his sake.
Like Jesus, we are called to empty ourselves of all vanity and take on “the form of a slave” for the glory of God. To do this, we must “put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” as encouraged in Romans 13:14. We cannot do it any other way.
Mulhall is a catechist who lives in Laurel, Maryland.