Why is There Suffering, and What is God Doing About It?…Gospel meditation for June 5th, 2016

by Angela Lambert

Jesus raises widow of Nain's son

June 5th, 2016; 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel of Luke 7:11-17 NAB

Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, crying out “A great prophet has arisen in our midst,” and “God has visited his people.” This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.

 Meditation Reflection:

Why is there evil in the world?  Why doesn’t God do anything about it? Some persons will answer that either God doesn’t exist or God doesn’t care.  Those persons willing to investigate the question further however, universally discover two things: human free will causes most evils and the person who has consistently done the most to alleviate suffering is God.  Utopian ideologies of the 19th and 20th centuries, endeavoring to eradicate evil through human efforts alone, all ended in countless deaths and totalitarian rule. Sin causes evil and only God can save us from ourselves.  Even death, God has revealed, did not originate with faulty genetics or evolution.  Sickness, death, toil, and pain entered the world through the original sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3; Romans 8:19-23).

God created human persons to experience Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  He designed us to live in perfect friendship with Him and with each other in a unity of love and joy for eternity.    We all experience deep suffering at some point(s) in life.   The woman in this Gospel provides an example of both deep spiritual pain from losing her only son after having already lost her husband, as well as utter material destitution since she would have no legal rights to property or work without a husband or son.  Upon seeing this, Jesus is “moved with pity for her.” When we feel most vulnerable, most alone, and our hearts are breaking, we can look to this passage and take comfort in knowing that Christ is looking on us with pity.  Moreover, this pity moves Him to do something to alleviate our pain.  In this case, Jesus restored the man to life.  In doing so, He restored the woman’s life as well.  Although Christ does not always save those we love from earthly death, this miracle demonstrates His power and His love which brings new life in surprising and supernatural ways.  It also points to the hope that all will be made new in the resurrected life in the kingdom of God.

God became man to dwell among us (John 1:14) and to personally alleviate our suffering through His Word, His touch, and His sacrifice.  As the psalmist proclaims: “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18).  Moved with pity, Christ continues to reach directly into our hearts to dry our tears and heal our wounds. He anoints our wounds with grace through His sacraments, He dispels hurtful lies with His divine revelation, He forgives our sins in the sacrament of Confession and fortifies us with grace to overcome them, and He feeds us with His very own body and blood in the Eucharist.  Finally, He unites us as members of His body and extends His hand of mercy through His disciples operating under the direction and love of the Holy Spirit.

Does God care about our suffering?  Is He going to do anything about it?  Yes.  Quite a lot actually, if only you will allow Him.  Christ offers new life if we will accept it.  He offers healing if we turn to Him.  This is the witness of every Christian disciple.

Consider:

  •  Re-read the Gospel and imagine you are one of the persons present.
    • Consider the love of the mother for her only son. Consider her love for her husband as well.  The death of her son means the image of her husband is gone as well as their family together.  In addition, imagine you will now be destitute with no way to provide for yourself.  To your surprise, a man emerges from the crowd and gives your son, your family, your life, back to you.
    • Imagine you are one of the members of the crowd. Why might you be present and how might you be feeling toward the woman?  What would you think of Christ’s miracle?
    • Imagine Christ’s perspective. What does His response reveal about His heart and His character?
  • Consider the definition of pity. Dictionary.com defines it as: “sympathetic or kindly sorrow evoked by the suffering, distress, or misfortune of another, often leading one to give relief or aid or to show mercy.” The heart of Christ felt sorrow at the sight of the woman’s pain and it moved Him to help her.  Imagine Christ seeing you in your pain.  Consider His merciful look of pity which shares your sorrow and desires to bring you comfort.
  • Reflect on a time Christ comforted you or saved you when you were in dire need. Take time to appreciate all that He did and the incredible ways He acted in your life during that time.

Make a Resolution (Practical Application):

  • Begin each day with this prayer: “Lord show me the needs around me.  Move my heart with pity and enable me to show mercy to someone today.”
  • Surrender a pain to Christ to heal. Reach out to Him in His Word, His Sacraments, or His Church.  Spend 5 minutes of silence with Christ and your pain.
  • Make a gratitude list of the mercies Christ has shown you over the years and then each day.

 

~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2016

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