Last week I was reminded of the reality of human suffering. It began when our Unity Team Prayer Group (which meets the last Sunday of each month at 9:30 a.m.) discussed how Christians respond to suffering.
Monday I prayed at a viewing for a young man who took his life. Tuesday I had a funeral Mass for a dear and sweet friend, Joseph Barbine, who died at age 87 in a car accident. Wednesday, I was saddened to learn that although Saudi Arabia has more than 100,000 fully equipped tents — air conditioners, electricity and stoves — that are used five days a year, suffering Syrian refugees may not use the tents for shelter.
Suffering is real. So how do we respond to it? Let me offer some suggestions.
First, the Old Testament story of Job reminds us we are God’s children. We are not God. We will never fully understand why the innocent suffer. We can only be humble and trust in the mercy and goodness of God who gives us the gift of life.
Second, suffering is a part of being human. Since Jesus was fully human he suffered. The night before he died he prayed to escape “the cup” but was willing to accept suffering to reveal God’s love and mercy for all humanity.
Suffering helps us to remember: it is a part of being human; it has a way of revealing who we and our friends are; and in a way it can be redemptive if our hearts grow in the grace of compassion rather than the poison of bitterness.
Think of a person who is a sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous. The sponsor first had to deal with his or her own demons before entering recovery and becoming a help to others who suffer with addiction.
May the suffering of Job and Jesus be a source of hope and courage for all of us. If Jesus suffered, we will suffer, but faith and humility will be our salvation.
Father Joseph M. Corley is pastor of Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Darby.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103