Reflecting on last week’s Epistle reading, Philippians 3:4b-14, Paul seems to say to us — we may need to start from the beginning again. We may need to build a whole new identity. Put everything aside. That’s what Paul speaks about doing when talking about moving away from his old life.
There’s going to be that challenge in the church and in the world as well after the pandemic subsides. And, after the political conflict (in the U.S.) of our present time, things start to look differently too. There’s the sense that there will need to be a rebuild of civility and common life together. Indeed, we will have losses, but we can be encouraged by Paul who sees this as an opportunity to make something new — to find a new path.
Paul’s journey is driven by the passion to “know Christ and the power of his resurrection” — I wonder whether his passion to share in Christ’s sufferings is, for Paul, the only way that he knows how to understand the mind of Christ — the way in which we long to understand our spouse, or sibling, or friend.
Surely, for those we care for, want to know what they go through — we want to be with them, somehow, in their suffering. We want to walk through that suffering with and come to a place of redemption and light.
The Way of Jesus challenges us to something even harder: to yearn to be with the suffering of those who are different from us, those we don’t understand, those we even feel disturbed or threatened by. To be with the suffering of our “enemies” (in Jesus’s words), is that perhaps the ultimate challenge of our times?