The joyful celebration of Christ’s resurrection followed an active and deeply appreciated Lent for me. Having celebrated these sacred ties many times in the past, I feel especially grateful in these my later years for this one! Shortly before Lent began, Rev. Kenneth Overberg, SJ gave us a day on the “Mystery of God and Suffering” which provided me with many new ideas. He also made available to us copies of his book Into the Abyss of Suffering which became my special Lenten reading.
This book is fascinating in its explanation of the different gospel representations of events in the life of Jesus. Details in incidents in the four Gospels differ—more explanation given to some than to others. The basic truth Fr. Overberg emphasizes is that Jesus Christ became totally human in all things except sin. His suffering was part of his humanity. The gospels were written from a “post resurrection perspective” so that the things which the gospel writers witnessed were seen in different ways from different points of view. Our experience also influences the way we see the gospels in a special way. But reading the events of Jesus’ life in the gospels gives an appreciation of that writer’s experience. Mark was first to write, followed by Matthew and Luke and then John whose gospel is quite different.
The book of Job was good reading to accompany Fr. Overberg’s thought and images and a help to understand the acceptance of suffering. Job is cited and seen as a real “sufferer” but I had a hard time with parts of the book—not the beginning and the end!
Fr. Overberg’s book has only six chapers but each is full of new ideas to challenge the mind. I found myself doing more and more Scripture reading especially in trying to answer the questions he poses at the end of each chapter. I had to read chapter several times and had to work to get answers.
Throughout Into the Abyss of Suffering there was much to think about and I shall continue to keep Fr. Overberg’s book at hand, food for heart and mind!
Sr. Andrea Collopy, OSB