Friday, November 5, 2010

In the light of the Resurrection

Thirty Second Ordinary Sunday Year C

Trying to explain the meaning of suffering is very difficult. From our own experiences, we too find it hard to explain the suffering – for example, when someone we love dies of cancer even though he/she may have been a loving person and a good Catholic; when some of us face financial difficulties, like losing a job, even though we come to mass every Sunday. Many people often think that suffering is the result of punishment. Bad people suffer because they are being punished by God. Good people enjoy life because they are being blessed by God. But very often, it just doesn’t happen this way.

Sometimes, the good people also suffer terribly like the seven brothers in today’s first reading. Some of us may be thinking – if God truly loves them, why does he allow them to suffer. Similarly, when we become sick or face some problem in life, we often question God’s failure to answer our prayers. We cannot understand the reason why our prayers are not answered especially when they are not selfish prayers.

Throughout the history of man, religions and philosophies have been trying to explain the meaning of suffering. Some attribute suffering to God’s punishment for sin. Others explain it as the consequence of our actions and decisions. Some philosophies will try to explain suffering as unreal and a figment of our imagination. Although, each of these explanations has some truth, I do not think that any religion or philosophy has been able to provide us with a complete and acceptable answer. The reason for this is that suffering is itself a mystery. Mysteries have a way of pointing us to some greater truth. But till the day we die, mysteries will remain unsolved.

We, Christians, have another way of understanding suffering – we understand it in the light of the resurrection. The resurrection reminds us that death is not the end of everything. Faith in the resurrection allows us to see our sufferings as only temporary. Faith in the resurrection gives us hope in order to bear the pains, disappointments, hurts, and sufferings which we experience throughout life. Faith in the resurrection allows us to see that God promises us life and not death. Can we try to imagine living a life without faith in the resurrection? Such a life would be unbearable especially when we encounter problems and difficulties. Without believing in the resurrection, taking our own lives (killing ourselves) would be the easiest solution.

In spite of whatever we experience in this life, in spite of all the difficulties we may encounter, we live with the hope of the resurrection. This hope is what St. Paul is speaking about in the second reading: “the Lord is faithful, and he will give you strength and guard you from the evil one.” Let us in this mass pray for the grace to continue trusting in the loving care of God. The resurrection is Jesus’ way of promising life and not death. Let us continue to place our hope in God for “he is God, not of the dead, but of the living, for to him all men are in fact alive.”

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