Presentation of our Lord
Heb 2: 14-18
Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham.
Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Jesus, who understands our suffering
When I was being bullied as a child, I don’t remember the fact that Jesus also suffered unjustly being much of a comfort. It can be hard to know such comfort as a child, when even believing in God only affirms that for some reason God has abandoned you. And even harder than the seeming abandonment of God was the far too real abandonment of friends trying to escape enduring a similar fate. I think that this is why as I grew into adulthood and began studying theology and Scripture, I was especially drawn to the meaning of Jesus’ words from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
To me, it spoke of the fact that this Jesus had “become like his sisters and brothers in every way,” had fully entered into my experience, and suffered as I did. Though maybe not a comfort then, it is a comfort now, as I still contend with the lasting effects of my mistreatment. As I probed the implications of Jesus fully entering into the human experience in this way, I discovered many who had made the same discovery. I often share with others the story of theologian Jurgen Moltmann who while a German POW in the Second World War—and not a believer in God—was confronted with the truth that his fellow countrymen had murdered millions of Jews, photos of the bodies pasted on the prison walls to prove it. It was then that he first turned to the Bible, and reading those words of Jesus from the cross, he was converted, because he saw there, “someone who understands me.”
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from thee.
From the malignant enemy, defend me.
At the hour of death, call me, and bid me come to Thee,
that with Thy saints I may praise thee, forever and ever.