February 7 – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Why me? That is the universal question everyone asks when faced with suffering! That suffering can be physical with a terminal diagnosis. That suffering can be the loss of a job or home. That suffering can be the emotional pain and grief of losing a loved one or a divorce. That suffering can be the loss of broken family relationship. The list can go on and on. And “why me” seldom if ever leads to a satisfying answer. And so today we hear of the plight of the Old Testament figure, Job.
At the time of Job, suffering was seen as punishment for sin. It still is by many today. In the time of Job, there was no understanding of an afterlife of happiness, and hence no hope of God’s “making it up to you” for suffering. This compounds Job’s misery. He has lost the only happiness he thinks possible – in spite of being a good and righteous man. It seemed that God was punishing him for no reason at all.
As Christians, we are taught to live by faith, and usually we do. When doubt casts a shadow over our faith, it’s especially unsettling. We feel a second loss – loss of confidence in the faith we counted on. However, doubt IS NOT THE SIGN OF A WEAK FAITH OR A SINFUL SPIRIT. It’s NOT an insult to God, nor is it an act of disloyalty. Pope Francis wrote that “trusting in God does not mean never arguing with Him.” Thomas Merton wrote, “Faith means doubt. Faith is not the suppression of doubt. It is the overcoming of doubt, and you overcome doubt by going through it.” Paul Tillich wrote, “Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element OF faith.” In other words, do not doubt that God can handle your doubt, whether occasioned by suffering or by something else.
The valuable question about our personal suffering is not “why?” Instead the valuable and practical questions is, “What am I going to do with it?” We can chose the “woe is me” path, or we can chose, like the suffering of Christ himself, to accept and offer our suffering WITH Christ and then our suffering has the power to accomplish good. When suffering comes your way, and it will, pray to God for the grace to offer your sufferings for the good of others.
Today Boy Scout Sunday is celebrated. We look forward to the time when our Cub and Boy Scout Troops sponsored by Our Lady of Mercy can meet again at OLM.
Ash Wednesday is two weeks away. Please remember to pre-register to attend a Mass or Scripture Service. Also, due to COVID, the sign of the cross with ashes will not be traced on your forehead. Instead, ashes will be sprinkled like a “pinch of salt” on top of your head.
Have a blessed week!