Two words come together in the readings from the Revised Common Lectionary this week: compassion and suffering. You may read about Job’s feeling of being abandoned by God this Sunday, or possibly the call of the prophet Amos for God’s people to live with compassion. Alternatively, you may hear the story of the wealthy ruler who was told by Jesus to sell all his possessions and give to the poor. Whichever reading is the focus for your worship this week, they all highlight what theologians call “God’s preferential option for the poor” – God’s deep concern for justice, equality and the end to poverty and unnecessary suffering in our world.

It’s tempting, when confronted with suffering, to intellectualise it. We can debate for hours why God allows suffering, and what we should do with those who suffer. But all our theories simply create distance between those who are not suffering and those who are. Suffering is not a problem to be solved. It’s a reality that every human being must face to a greater or lesser degree. Suffering is a call to compassion and connection. When we are the ones who suffer, we are invited to experience God’s presence and grace within our pain, and through those who show compassion and support. When others are suffering, we are called to be the embodiment of God’s compassion as we serve and care for our struggling sisters and brothers. Either way the most appropriate response to suffering is loving action.

This week, we will explore the Gospel’s challenge to embrace suffering – for the sake of our faith, for the sake of others, as a normal part of human life, and as a call to be Christ’s hands and feet.

To download this week’s reflections in PDF format, click here.