5th Sunday of the Year: Confronting the reality of human suffering

Study: Reflect upon an experience of suffering.  How did your faith help you face it?

Pray: Are you or someone you know facing pain or loss?  Pray that God gives the grace needed to face it.

Serve: Walking with others on their journey of anguish demands time and attention.  Are you being called now to assist someone in need?

Mass Readings – 5th Sunday of the Year

Let’s take a look at these readings:

  • 1st Reading – Job speaks from his anguish and misery.
  • Psalm – “Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.”
  • 2nd Reading – Paul states his need to preach the Gospel.
  • Gospel – Jesus heals the sick and preaches to the people.

On the surface of these readings we see the obvious – there are times when we encounter suffering.  Whether it’s body, mind, heart or soul…most people on more than one occasion are brought low by pain, struggle or loss.

What’s more, there is no “spin” in the Bible.  Instead, we repeatedly see in the Scriptures a raw look at the challenges people face without trying to explain away the hardship.  It’s almost as if the Word of God seeks to remind us that the journey of life often stops in places of anguish.

We might be tempted to ask the Lord why.  We might try to find reasons why a good and almighty God allows it.  Such a reaction is normal and typical.

Here’s the problem.  Many of the hardships of life have no easy answers or simple explanations.  Much of life is a mystery, and many things will not be explained until the day we stand before the Lord when all is revealed.

Suffering by itself serves no purpose, yet we often recognize that there are many times we “suffer” for something greater:

  • The athlete who suffers in practice to perform in competition
  • The student who suffers in study to perform academically
  • The employee who suffers with work to complete a challenging project
  • The friend who suffers for a loved one to bring help and comfort
  • The parent who suffers for a child to show compassion and care

You get the point.  We often embrace suffering because we recognize that there is meaning and purpose in much that is difficult, challenging and hard.

But what about when we don’t understand?  One of the most helpful questions I have ever found in the face of suffering is this:

How does my faith help me face this?

For remember, when our lives are focused on the Lord all things – even suffering – fit into a proper perspective.  Christ’s suffering on the Cross breaks the bonds of sin and death; Christ’s resurrection shows us that there is something far beyond the realm of pain and loss.

As Jesus healed and preached Good News we call upon our faith to help us face the difficulties of life with strength.  Perhaps we will not know why suffering happens, but God will give us the grace to learn how we will face it.

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts

 

About Fr. Andrew Ricci

A Catholic priest since 1997, Fr. Andrew Ricci is currently the rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Superior, WI. His website "Three Great Things" can be found at studyprayserve.com and his podcasts can be found under "Catholic Inspiration" in the iTunes store. View all posts by Fr. Andrew Ricci

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