Isn’t it interesting that, right in the middle of this season of Easter joy, the church focuses our attention on the suffering of the messiah? The prophets announced long ago that God’s messiah would suffer; “it is written that the messiah must suffer; Christ had to suffer.”
Jesus’ followers never have been able to come to terms fully with the idea of redemption through suffering. Surely suffering cannot be good, cannot be God’s desire for us! Jesus, however, turned suffering into a positive force, buying redemption with the single coin that has suffering and death on one side and resurrection on the other.
The amount of suffering in our world is staggering. Apart from the suffering that comes naturally with life, there is the suffering we inflict on ourselves through injustice, violence and war. The suffering of Jesus continues in our day, and we still have difficulty seeing its victims as our redeemers.
Jesus takes the side of those most in need, physically and spiritually. The example of Jesus poses a number of challenges to the contemporary Church. ... [M]ost radically, it calls for an emptying of self, both individually and corporately, that allows the Church to experience the power of God in the midst of poverty and powerlessness.
U.S. Bishops, Economic Justice for All, 1986: #52 (pp. 13-14).