HELPLESSNESS and HOPE
(Reflection on the readings for June 9, 2013,
the 10th Sunday, Ordinary Time “C”)
- Deacon Paul Rooney
There is a lot of grieving going on today. It includes those who have lost sons and daughters in a war in some far-off land. It can spring from terminal illnesses that seem to pop up out of nowhere, and strike down a member of our family. Another particular cause for heart grief is when a family member strays from the fullness of truth that is found in the Catholic Church. No matter what form they take, these things tend to leave us feeling helpless and depressed.
Shared helplessness is certainly a common bond among those grieving either their own loss, or the loss sustained by someone else. I could not help but think to myself, where is Elijah (1st Reading: 1 Kgs 17:17-24), or where is Jesus (Gospel: Luke 7:11-17), both who brought back the dead in our readings today. We all want certainties in life; we dislike painful and heartbreaking surprises.
All we know for sure is that we can’t blame God for the bad news. In the midst of disaster, it is possible for all of us, still in shock, to overlook or forget another reality: Jesus is indeed always present. We read about his endless compassion in our gospel. Now we see his disciples continuing his mission of compassion, as they serve and help the grieving survivors in Oklahoma (and other locations) in every way they can. Pity and compassion know of no denominational lines; instead, they come from a heart filled with Jesus’ own love.
It is only Jesus who can bring meaning out of chaos. Jesus has power over death. While we cannot imitate such power, we can imitate his compassion! Each one of us knows all too well the tragedies that follow or flow from hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones, drought, pestilence, and other things we call “natural” disasters. When circumstances seem to confront us with hopelessness, our faith is put to the test. We do the only thing our faith calls us to do: we cling to the one who promises eternal life, because we know that somehow all things turn to the good, because God is working in all things (Rom. 8:28).
Why do we know this? Because the Father sent his only Son to live among us and teach us. He suffered, and he died for us. He understands suffering and dying. He has been there, done that... Now he wants us to trust him, to accept and endure with faith and hope whatever comes our way in life. There are many books written on the topic of abandonment to divine providence (one even has that title); but that is the secret we need to bring into the light. We are God’s kids, children of God, sons and daughters of our Father. We need to trust in Him, and abandon ourselves into our Father’s hands, imitating our brother Jesus.