Christ’s Patient Endurance of Suffering
From the Spiritual Writings of John Ruusbroec
…He began to suffer at the time of his birth, for he was born in poverty and in cold. He was circumcised and so shed his blood. He was forced to flee to a strange land… He suffered hunger and thirst, disgrace and contempt, and… slanderous words and deeds… He fasted, kept vigils, and was tempted by the devil. He was subject to everyone. He went from country to country and from city to city with much labor and zeal in order to preach the Good News.
Finally he was arrested by… enemies even though he was a friend to them. He was betrayed, mocked, and insulted; scourged and beaten; and condemned on the basis of false testimony. In great pain he carried his cross to the highest place on earth and was there stripped naked. No man or woman has ever seen so beautiful a body so cruelly treated. He suffered disgrace, pain, and cold before all the world, for he was naked and it was cold, with a sharp wind cutting into his wounds. He was nailed to the wood of the cross with blunt nails and was so stretched out that his veins were ruptured. He was raised up on the cross, which was then dropped down into its hole with such force that his wounds began bleeding. His head was crowned with thorns. His ears heard the… shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” and many other abusive words. His eyes saw… obstinacy and malice… and the misery of his mother, and his eyes lost their power of sight in the bitterness of pain and death. His nose smelled the foulness which those standing by spat out of their mouths into his face. His mouth and his sense of taste were drenched with vinegar and gall. Every sensitive part of his body was pervaded with the pain of the scourging. Thus was Christ our Bridegroom wounded unto death, abandoned by God and all creatures; he hung dying on the cross like a piece of wood for which no one cared except Mary his mother, who could do nothing to help him.
Christ also suffered spiritually, in his soul, because of the obdurate willfulness of… those who put him to death, for however many signs and wonders they saw, they persisted in their evil ways. He suffered because of the ruin and retribution which would come upon them on account of his death, for God would inflict retribution upon them in both soul and body. He also suffered because of the distress and misery of his mother and his disciples, who were sorely afflicted. He suffered because his death would be of no avail for so many persons and because many would be ungrateful and even swear false oaths in order to ridicule and revile him who had died out of love for us. His human nature and his lower reason suffered because God withdrew from them the influx of his gifts and consolation and left them to themselves in such distress. For this reason, Christ said in complaint, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But our Lover was silent about all his sufferings and cried out to his Father, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”. Christ was heard by his Father because of his reverence, for those who acted out of ignorance were afterwards probably all converted.
These, then, were interior virtues of Christ: humility, charity, and the patient endurance of suffering. Christ practiced them throughout his life, died with them, and so redeemed us through his righteousness..
6 John Ruusbroec. The Spiritual Espousals and Other Works. Trans. James A. Wiseman, O.S.B. New York: Paulist Press, 1985. 50-51.