The Greatest Comfort in all Christian Suffering

Easter 7 Saturday

John 17:11

“And I am no longer in the world; but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep those whom you have given me in your name, so that they may be one, even as we are one.”

 

Where the devil sees that Christ gains students, he goes raving mad, pours out all his wrath, fights it with all might and all deceit, and works without ceasing to tear them away from Christ. This is why Christ asks the Father to preserve them and keep them under his name lest they be scattered so that one is torn from it here, the other there, but that they remain one thing and undivided. … But we will neither see nor grasp what this one thing is but must believe it. But this one thing is nothing other than what Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 10:17; 12:12 and elsewhere, namely, that we Christians are all one body. … This is a mighty, great comfort for all who believe in Christ and cling to the Word, namely, that we all are members of a single body and we have the advantage that everything that affects one member affects the whole body which is not the case in sameness or concord. For although many are of one mind and will, they do not receive one another as in one body. Based on this unity in the body Christendom is called a communion, not similarity, of saints, since all saints or Christians are one bunch and one cake. Accordingly, a Christian has the comfort of knowing that when the devil attacks him, he attacks not a finger but the entire body, that is, all Christians in the world, and even God and Christ to boot. … For it belongs to such unity that there is no piece or part that lives and feels by itself without having the life and feeling of all others, that is, of the whole body. Thus, where the smallest member of Christendom suffers, soon the entire body feels it and rises up, so that they all come running and complain and cry out. Then our head, Christ, hears and feels it as well. And though he may delay a little, when he begins to look angrily and turn up his nose, he will certainly not joke around. For this is what he says through the prophet Zechariah in chapter 2, verse 8: “He who touches you touches the apple of my eye.” … This, I say, is the greatest comfort in all suffering of the Christians, whether they are afflicted by the devil or attacked by the world: They do not suffer by themselves, but all of Christendom on earth, even all the angels in heaven along with Christ and the Father himself take up their suffering and help them bear it. Nothing can happen to one Christian that does not affect all of them. If you know and believe this, you can bear and overcome all kinds of misfortune. … This is why faith must cling to this word against its own feeling and the screaming of the world that believes when it attacks an individual Christian it has put him in his place and that no one can help or deliver him, just as the world boasted and rejoiced concerning Christ when he hung on the cross. See, this is the unity of the Christians Christ indicated in these words. But one cannot arrive at this unity except when God keeps us in his name, as he said, that is, if we remain in the Word that we have received from Christ. For the Word keeps us together that we all remain under one head and cling to him alone, not seeking another holiness or anything else that we assert before God besides Christ. In summary, we are incorporated into Christ by the Word, so that everything he has is ours and we can receive him as our own body. Moreover, he must also receive everything that happens to us, so that world, devil, or any misfortune cannot harm or overwhelm us. For no power on earth is strong enough to destroy this unity. But this is what the devil tries to do, as he seeks to sever this bond and to tear us from the Word by his deceit. Where that happens, he has already won. For outside the Word is no longer unity, but nothing but division, countless sects and groups whom the devil casts into disarray by his nets and ropes, that is, by human teachings, where each seeks some special holiness in his own works.

 

St. Louis ed., 8:804-808.

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