Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:1-7
Key verse: (7) Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.
Reflection: Most letters we read in the bible begin with a cookie-cutter format of introduction and greeting. Instead of beginning with a greeting of thanksgiving, as he does in other letters, Paul opens the second letter to the Corinthian church with a blessing that calls God, “the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation” (1:3). God is the God who consoles us in all of our affliction and suffering and oppression, so that we may be able to console others with the consolation we have been consoled by God. This blessing illumines a central theme: God saves and liberates us from whatever is afflicting or oppressing us so that we may serve to liberate others.
This blessing gives us an understanding of God’s response to evil and suffering and is a description of what God’s salvation is all about. It should not be taken as an immunizing comfort to the evils of the world or form other’s sufferings, keeping us healthy and whole and others not; rather, this is an underlining call for an overflow of reciprocity. We have been consoled; we must now go and console others.
As we make our way through Holy Week into the Easter celebration, we cannot help but look to the cross — the ultimate consolation of Christ. We too share in his suffering and death. We too are means of consolation in and for the world through Christ’s overflow of love for the world. Paul’s hope for the church remains unshaken, for we one in the body of Christ who suffered on our behalf which is the very basis for an authentic sharing and communion through suffering and affliction and through joy and consolation.
I wonder what comfort you have received recently and how might that consolation be reciprocated.
Prayer: Comforter of those afflicted, you have liberated your people through the ages, O God. You have bound up the brokenhearted; you have guarded the weak; you have made the poor rich in love; you have consoled those in pain. Thank you. Help us to be the body of Christ in the world, showing your love and grace and mercy, passing on the consolation we have in you. Amen.
Author: Ben Brannan
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].