Suffering is a part of the human condition that none of us completely escapes. As Br. David Vryhof explains in this introduction to the fourth week of the series, it is a “Mark” of God’s love operating in our lives when we respond to human need by loving service. The third Mark of Love asks us to see how God is already working in the lives of those in need, and then discover how we can be channels of that mission in the world.
Transcript: It takes only a glance at the news to realize that we are surrounded by human suffering. Suffering is a part of the human condition and none of us completely escapes it. People suffer from sickness, from loss, from violence, from aggression, from greed. There are so many causes and reasons for suffering in the world. And God has entered into our suffering. God has come to us in Jesus Christ and has taken on human form and identified God’s self with human suffering, even to the point of death on a cross. God cares for us and God comes to be with us and to meet us in our places of need and suffering.
And so those who share and bear God’s life in the world are also inclined to respond to human suffering. God’s love within us reaches out to those in need and those who are hurting. God’s love for them flows in us and through us. So a mark of the Body of Christ in the world, a Mark of Mission, a Mark of Love, that has been important since the founding of the church has been to respond to human need by loving service. Service has always been a part of the Christian vocation.
We have to be cautious that our service isn’t just imposed on others, but that we come to people in need and suffering with genuine humility, with a posture of listening, and of openness. We want to listen deeply to their pain and to understand their circumstances, to come alongside them, and to offer to stand next to them, to stand with them, to support them, and to help in whatever way we can. We don’t come with our own agenda. We come listening in humility to understand what God is already doing in the lives of these who are needy and suffering, and then asking God how we can participate in what God is already doing. God’s mission is to be with the suffering and the needy, to lift them up and to restore them, and to heal them, and to bring them love. And we can be channels of that mission in the world if we listen and are sensitive to God’s voice and to the voices of those in need.
This week we’ll be exploring this Third Mark of Mission, responding to human need by loving service. And we invite you to watch the videos and to consider how this mark is evident in your own life, individually and as communities of faith.
– Br. David Vryhof