Victim or Victor?

This morning, as I was praying vigils, I was struck by a thought that connects with what I was saying yesterday, although it approaches the subject from a different angle. Have you noticed how, in the gospels, Jesus never refers to himself as a victim, never refers to his woundedness after the Resurrection? It is always, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life’. The wounds are there, etched into his flesh for all eternity, but the victory over sin and death has transformed them. It is as though he anticipates that transformation, that victory, while never denying the reality of the present situation. When we grumble, we tend to take on the role of victim: ‘poor me’. I wonder whether it would help to see ourselves as sharing in victory more often. Not so much ‘poor me’ as ‘blessed me’. That is not pretending, more a case of seeing things as they really are: transformed by grace and redeemed.

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35 thoughts on “Victim or Victor?”

  1. I dare say that is part of the joy of salvation as expressed in 1 Peter 1 – rejoicing that we are indeed “transformed by grace and redeemed.”

    I had the privilege of preaching about this marvelous passage of Scripture last Sunday evening… Thanks for the reminder, Sister…

  2. Simply – yes, yes, yes! That’s exactly it, isnt it? I suppose what the “enemy of our human nature” wants most is for us to deny our blessedness and Christ’s victory. Thank you.

  3. Yes, thank you, Sr Catherine, for this reminder.

    To live ‘as if’ is to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. I believe it actually precludes and protects us from many negative twists and turns and offers the shortest cut to peace and well-being.

    Thomas believed on seeing Christ’s wounds and was blessed, but was told that those who had not seen, and yet believed, were even more blessed. Our prayer is for eyes to see the ‘evidence of things not seen’. Faith is what we ‘know’ and cannot demonstrate or express, but which our experience comes to prove fully justified.

    Refusing to look down at the abyss, while we cross the bridge God has made for us in Christ, is the essence if discipleship and requires constant prayer for strength.

    God bless us all!

  4. This is very interesting. I was discussing with a Christian friend a few days ago the psychological triangle of roles that people often take on especially in times of crisis – ‘victim’ ‘rescuer’ and ‘persecutor’. The other role is that of ‘adult’. The more we are able to stay as adult the more it helps us handle the situation. I had never related this to Jesus as the greatest role model before even though it now seems so obvious. I am sure the rest of the model can also be linked to the way people around Jesus behaved at this time as well. Thank you for this insight and may your day be blessed.

  5. The psalms help us to do this too. I have found that a prayer of gratitude from the heart, “Praise and thank you Jesus for this mess that I am in” repeated as a mantra, takes me from the world’s perspective of my situation, to a Higher one.

  6. Having recently been on the wrong end of the consequence of someone’s dangerous driving it could be easy to fall into the role of ‘victim’, to be the ‘poor, hard done by’. But this is where God calls us to recognise the power of living in His love. The other driver is also a child of God, like me and so is my brother. His actions changed my life but he doesn’t define my life – God does and God defines my life by love. And what could be better than that?

      • After 14 weeks at long last I will be returning to work – Thank GOD! I know in time the pain will lessen, but I am getting there. Yet again life’s journey has taken a different direction from the one I had in plan, but I know that this new path I travel is still led by my loving Father and it will lead me to places I wouldn’t have visited otherwise. Through the pain there is excitement of the anticipation of exploring this new path and seeking it’s treasures.

  7. Thank you sister. Humanly, if we suffer great injustices, calamities or physical hurt again and again it’s difficult to suppress the instinct of self pity. Sometimes I think some human trial and suffering is insurmountable.

    Older people I have looked after have sometimes shelved horrific happenings, have been to church all their life and yet have never been reconciled to God.

    When people are suffering so and people in the body of Christ show empathy and love they quite naturally want more, seemingly feeding a cycle of self pity. Unfortunately it might be a time when they discover that human love has limitations and boundaries, and can also be at its most cutting, causing them to leave the church. I praise God that He has given us priests and men and women of God who have been empowered with His patience and understanding.

    I pray for those men and women who have suffered life at the brink of desolation and then have suffered rejection from the church. May they come to know Christ’s forgiveness, peace, overwhelming love, comfort, healing, victory and resurrection, even if they have reached old age. I too pray that they can be caught up in the victory and see their trails and tribulations as their part in His love and a true blessing for others, so that their hope in Christ is restored and they can have new life.

    I pray for myself when I lose sight of Jesus and think ‘ poor me’ because it blinds and deafens me to the needs of others.

  8. Although He suffered his focus was always on the victory of the cross. Not the obsticals and trials He had to pass. His aim was to gloryfy God not to make Himself a focal point.

    If we focus on the blessings then the suffering can never win. We glorify God by seeing His blessings daily.

    Now I’m off to practice what I preach!!

  9. After instruction to discuss at length here:

    This sentiment was a bit troubling. To view Jesus’ suffering as, Jesus, a victim, was a stretch, at least for this Catholic.

    Why would Jesus ask the apostles to feel sorry for him? How would that go with the apostolic spirit?

    Why would God have human anticipations at a time of divinity? And why would there be any denial whatsoever about what was prophesied?

    I did consider after reading this, though, that as a catholic suffering as a victim, it’s different than a victim in a secular life.

    In not being of the ways of the world, there is no need to rely on a secular solution to the struggles a victim faces. With the Lord as our shepherd, are christians ever even faced with the struggles of a victim?

    If a christian does not want, and does not judge, is there ever even an opportunity for a christian to be trapped in any type of victim mindset?

    • Thank you, Nick. Twitter is too short to be able to answer properly. We believe that Jesus was both God and man, the two natures united in himself. As God, he knew everything and was incapable of suffering as we understand it; but in his nature as man he had to grow in understanding, suffered, and died. As a man, also, he was supremely free. He CHOSE to obey the Father; he CHOSE the way of suffering and death that followed on from his obedience. He could have seen himself as a victim, unjustly accused, tried and persecuted; but he CHOSE to focus on the victory. ‘Jesus, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross.’ Does that make more sense now?

    • Nick, you ask what is meant by ‘the abyss’. I see it as a kind of bottomless loss. The abyss is the gulf between where we are, and Eden, or Heaven. We can’t cross it by any device or design of our own.

      It’s where humans feel out of touch with God (or a sense of order and happiness) in their suffering.

      Many things in this life threaten to overwhelm us and victimise us, particularly when our focus is on the coming Kingdom which reveals our world and its practices to be so ‘out of true’. We all face it at some point in our journey. It’s part of the challenge of helping to bear the Cross of Christ in the world. There are many forms of Hell in relationships alone. There are many forms of bullying, persecution and exploitation. There is the hell of addiction, of mental illness and personality disorder, of domestic violence, of abuse, of some terminal illnesses, of perpetual grief, of natural disaster and loss of family. Plus all shades of suffering in between, when a grasp on ‘reality’ becomes distorted and leads to estrangement from communion with God and a sense of who we are and where we belong in his Creation.

      Jesus describes ‘the abyss’ as ‘outer darkness’. It’s a real state of being, one which, momentarily, on the Cross he visited himself in order that we may know, ultimately, there is no place where God is not for those who believe in what he has done through Christ.

      Thankfully, we have the Eucharist, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. We have the promise of peace which passes all understanding and to that promise we cling and live ‘as if’ through our darkest trials and pray earnestly for those we see suffering. If there is any other strategy for victory, I have not experienced it.

      It is only through living ‘as if’ that our objectives can be realised, even in the ordinary, everyday sense.

      In St Paul’s words: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.’

      Hope this helps 🙂

  10. What a very rich exchange here today. The digital world just loves statistics to prove its point. I wonder if you have any ideas about which topics draw the greatest number of responses or the richest?

  11. Rosy, this sounds like what I have always only known as sin.

    In trusting in the Lord and his understanding (the Bible) I’ve never found myself to face with an abyss. As a human, there may have been many times though, faced to sin.

    • Nick, it is the sin of the Fall, not individual sin, I mean here.

      As Christians, we are saved from the consequences of our own debt and sometimes of those around us, but we ‘buy into’ Christ’s salvation of the world. Therefore we inherit a necessary share of suffering which, through the Grace that is available to us as believers, does not utterly overpower us. We live through it with the blessed assurance that it is in the best cause in the world.

      God does not give us more than we can bear, but we aren’t immunised against suffering just because we are Christians who believe Christ has already conquered Sin. That Satan has a scorched earth policy is very apparent in our world. He is defeated. But until God’s Kingdom comes (which we should all be earnestly praying for) the world is in the process of Being Saved.

      Christ was not a sinner, but took upon himself the role of the sinner in order to demonstrate God’s love for his Fallen Creation. He felt it in Body, Mind, Soul and Spirit. If he hadn’t, it would have been meaningless.

      Evil is very real. It’s not a popular notion these days, but St Paul speaks of ‘principalities and powers’, ‘spirits of the air’. We are bound to come face to face with it and feel the woundingness of it. Personally, I think we should not try to combat evil, but offer it up, the triumph being through our trust in the Cross and our living ‘as if’ the Kingdom were already here. This enables the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the Earth.

      Jesus says the servant is not greater than his master. If the world persecutes him, it will also persecute his followers. When he says ‘I am the Way’, he means it is radically different. It’s not just a ‘bolt on’ to our best human endeavours and intentions.

      The Rosary emphasises ‘the fellowship of his sufferings on Calvary’, with specific focus on days of Sorrowful Mysteries, Tuesdays and Fridays. We are called upon to be instrumental in healing Christ’s wounded Body on Earth.

      God is a very loving Father and provides for us daily, down to the minutiae of our lives in all circumstances. When we’re prayerful, he will intervene in painful situations, sometimes lifting us out of them, sometimes cutting them short, sometimes transforming them into something wonderful. But the boundless joy of Christianity, to be the dynamic force it is, is ever welded to an underside of grief. Else how should we know our need of God and be filled with heartfelt gratitude for what he has done in Christ? Yet, in the farthest reaches of our helplessness, his strength kicks in and is made perfect. This is the Eternal Paradox which sustains us and confounds the powers and designs of mammon.

      But, always, whatever befalls, we have promises in which we can be blessedly confident.

      ‘I will not leave you, nor forsake you.’ ‘My Grace is sufficient for you.’ ‘I am with you, even unto the end of the world.’ ‘I go to prepare a place for you.’

      Immanuel, God with us. He has trodden this path. He is treading it now beside and within us. May that inner Divine Life be increased. We can do nothing in our own strength but are wholly dependent upon God, our Father.

      Blessings!

  12. Rosy, is sin of the fall ever just sin? Is all sin individual sin?

    I never tried to say your life wasn’t your own. For me, there maybe is no grandeur to sin. Adam’s sin was maybe the sin of the fall. My sin, and turning to the world, might simply be regular sin, and a constant turning to the world.

    I often pray about taking up my cross and following him.

    I am maybe fortunate to not need a lot of assurance, and thankful for it.

    If I were constantly tempted to turn towards sin, or the ways of the world, I could see that as an abyss. After Jesus, maybe even after Moses, there has always been an alternative. After having experienced the alternative by living as a christian, it might not be a difficult choice anymore to turn to Jesus instead of falling into any pitfalls of sin.

    Congratulations on your christianity.

    My testimony might be validation of your testimony, in that I do not need assurance of what you might be saying.

    Cheers!

  13. Nick, yes, you are very fortunate at the present time, and fortunate to recognise that. That is a profound gift of Grace.

    All sin is not individual sin. Sometimes we suffer for the sin of the fathers, for instance. And that is indeed biblical.
    Our mission on Earth is to Endure and pray that through what Jesus has done on the Cross, the tide of consequences may be stemmed. That is our contribution.

    One thing is sure, we never never arrive. Our understanding and experience deepen as we go along. One of the features of our early discipleship is that we don’t necessarily recognise what sin is. It isn’t always glaringly obvious. By then, we may have engaged with life consequences that need our call upon God to find a way out. But we accept that God has allowed them for his own purposes which have implications and resonances in a much bigger picture than we can see and not directly to do with us.

    As the Jesuit, Gerard W Hughes, says: ‘Sin is the refusal to let God be the God of all things.’ Nothing more, nothing less. That may, and almost certainly will, take us on a rollercoaster journey!

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