When good people suffer
In our ministry in our Liturgical Centre and day to day service with the people, we come to know people’s personal stories of sufferings. It’s the grandmother who comes to offer Mass for a stillborn child and through her tears seeks an answer ‘why?’. It’s the father who comes to the Chapel and kneels for hours, begging the Lord for a job so he can support his family. It’s the young man who searches for meaning to his life, when the voices of the most inner depths of his being and the world around him tell him that he is worthless and useless. It’s the young woman who ‘tried’ a few lines of cocaine for a laugh and now she is addicted, struggling to pay back loan after loan.
During this month of September we celebrated two feastdays, the Exaltation of the Most Holy Cross and then the following day, Our Lady of Sorrows. The cross is the greatest symbol of the Christian faith and is the point where two stories meet: the long story of God’s never-changing love for human beings and the sad story of the human rejection of God, of the inability to cope with goodness and the drive to divide and destroy.
Isn’t it strange that we would ‘celebrate’ something which is so sad, painful and sorrowful? It is easy for those who do not believe to point at us when tragedies and disasters happen, asking ‘where is your God now?’ It is in the wounds of Jesus that we realise that the Wounded One is also our Healer. Jesus on the Cross is the powerful proof that God literally loved us to death. Julian of Norwich once said that” we do not really look on the wounds of Jesus as honourable scars, but as tokens of victory and love.” Indeed each one of us bear these tokens from the journey of life.
We all experience sadness through our own suffering, and have witnessed the suffering of those close to us. We wish we could do more, yet often we cannot cure the illness or remove the injustice that causes the suffering. During the times when our suffering is most intense, we can remember Mary our Mother. She teaches us that through our love for others, rooted in our love for God, and faith in the resurrection and power of God's grace, we have the strength and courage to persevere through any suffering the world presents. Mary's surrender is a surrender to God.