By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo
What were the sufferings of Christ in His Passion and Death? The answer is He suffered everything. Literally everything. All areas of human suffering we can think of is covered. St. Thomas Aquinas gives us three.
First, on the part of men: Christ endured suffering from Gentiles and from Jews, from men and women, from rulers, servants and mobs. He also suffered from friends and acquaintances, such as the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter. Second, in honor and reputation. Friends abandoned Him. Blasphemies were hurled at Him, mockeries and insults. He was despoiled of His garments and was mocked as a king with a crown of thorns. Third, He suffered everything in his body. In his head He suffered the crown of piercing thorns; in His hands and feet from the fastening of the nails; on His face from the blows and spittle; and from the lashes over His entire body. He suffered in his senses as well: in His sense of touch, by being scourged and nailed; in taste, by being given vinegar and gall to drink; in smell, by being fastened to the gibbet in a place reeking with the stench of corpses who died of crucifixion, which is called Calvary; in hearing, by being tormented with the cries of blasphemers and scorners; in sight, by beholding the tears of His mother and of the disciple whom He loved.
Remember that with God, there is no happenchance or accident. Everything happens according to His plan; anticipating the decisions and actions of people and using man’s free will to nevertheless fulfill his purpose. All of the sufferings of Christ were allowed and approved by God so to speak, to give us an example. He had to endure all sorts of suffering so that no man or woman can say later on that God could not empathize with him or her because Christ did not suffer what he or she has suffered. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15) Christ has experienced our suffering ahead of us and thus, He can relate to us and is with us in our pains.
Although our Lord Jesus Christ is a King, He did not live in a palace here on earth or in a place of beauty, of peace, of power and revelry but a King who lived in ugliness and horror and weakness and pain. He did not come only into some kinds of suffering and not others, but into every one, so that we could find him there. He fulfilled the prophecy in Psalm 139:12, “Even the darkness is not dark to you.” The lesson here is that suffering is not the greatest evil in the world for we can make use of suffering for atonement and penance, as Christ did. The greatest evil is sin because it separates us from God. Suffering does not separate us from God and can even bring us closer to Him if we offer them up. That’s why Christ was so passionate in pointing out the hypocrisy and corruption of the Scribes and Pharisees for God detests sin, but He never detested sacrifice for He willingly and humbly embraced pain and suffering in His passion and death, and because sacrifice is the proof of love.