As Jesus looks upon the city of Jerusalem, he weeps for the destruction that will come. May the Lord’s sorrow for our sins move us to repent of the evil in our hearts.
Tag Archives: Grief
We recognize that being disciples of Jesus Christ does not take away experiences of suffering and loss; rather, we understand that God will give us what we need to make our way through even the darkest moments of life – turning our grief into joy.
Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts
While the phrase “love one another” sounds great when we like the people in question, the real test of faith occurs when it’s tough. The command of Jesus to “love your enemies” will demand us to become like the Lord – who even forgave those who nailed him to the Cross. To do this we call upon God for the grace we need to be filled with the love of Christ so that we can share his love in all moments of life…even when surrounded by enemies.
Study: Reflect on wounded relationships in your life. What needs to be done to bring them healing?
Pray: Ask the Lord for the grace to bring healing to the relationships in your life, especially where suffering has caused misunderstanding or fear has led to doubt and uncertainty.
Serve: Are there people in your life that are struggling in their relationships? How can you be a bridge that fosters unity and reconciliation?
Last week I focused on the personal nature of suffering. When we are in pain, when we hurt, we can easily focus on ourselves. This is not necessarily a bad thing; suffering can help us confront reality and strive for healing and wholeness. In our suffering we are aware of blessings that we may have taken for granted – our sight can become sharper as we realize the gifts that have been lavished upon us.
There is another dimension of suffering, however. Suffering commonly affects relationships; when one person suffers, it is often the case that others suffer as well. Consider the following:
- Physical suffering can keep us from human touch/contact
- Intellectual distress can cause us to lash out in doubt and misunderstanding
- Emotional anguish can prevent us from connecting with others because of fear and anger
- Spiritual suffering can obscure our values and beliefs with God and others
There are countless examples, but the point is clear – the pain and anguish a person suffers can directly affect relationships with God and one another. Suffering can become an obstacle that blocks us from the very persons who can bring healing and relief. Often the greatest wound from suffering is isolation: in our weakness we withdraw from the very people who can help us the most.
The 1st Reading, Responsorial Psalm, and Gospel today reveal both the obstacles of suffering and the bridges that God makes possible through healing grace. In the face of suffering the Lord comes, not just to bring healing to a person, but healing to the relationships among persons. God longs not only to renew our lives but the lives around us as well. Where suffering brings isolation the Lord brings unity – drawing us together in reconciliation and love.
This communal aspect of suffering thus begs two questions for our consideration:
- Is suffering affecting relationships in my life right now?
- How can I invite the Lord to bring healing/reconciliation?
When the Jesus healed the leper in the Gospel today, he did more than give the man back his health – he gave back his relationships as well. The man (formerly cut off from human society) is now restored to his family, his friendships, and his participation in the community. His life has been restored.
As we look to our own encounters with suffering we keep an eye to the ways in which our relationships are harmed/healed. May we call upon the grace of Christ to touch our lives, and bless the lives of those around us.
Note: This post was originally published on February 9, 2015.
Following immediately after yesterday’s Feast of the Holy Cross, the readings today focus on Mary as she endured the “sword of sorrow” as she stood at the Cross of her son. Her sorrow reaches out through time and space to all people who have been overwhelmed by grief. May her example help us to face our moments of pain with a sure and steadfast faith in Jesus Christ.
The Descent from the Cross, Rogier van der Weyden, 1435, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.
Note: This is one of the most moving paintings I have ever stood before.
The Lord bluntly teaches that grief is part of our journey of faith, but that it is not the final destination. As we face our challenges today we turn to Jesus Christ for the strength and guidance that will bring us to joy in His kingdom.
Mary’s example of faith in the midst of sorrow inspires us to face our grief and loss in this life with God’s grace.
This is really two podcasts put together: some 5th graders from Cathedral school offered their reflections, and their thoughts are followed with the actual homily given at Mass. May we face the grief of this world with the faith of Christ…who will bring us to eternal joy.
With help from some 4th graders from Mrs. Peterson’s class at Cathedral School, Fr. Andrew looks at how God can take bad things and bring about great goodness.
If you are looking for more material to help you this Lent, you might consider this list of presentations I have offered over the last couple of years. Feel free to check it out and share if you find it helpful:
Study: Reflect on a time of grief and loss in your life. Where did you find support and strength?
Pray: Pause to consider those who are going through grief and hold them up in your daily prayers.
Serve: Do you know someone who is struggling with grief right now? Perhaps a visit or an act of kindness could make the day a little brighter.
Last October I was traveling through the Holy Land and I passed through the village where Jesus performed the miracle that is recounted in the Gospel today. I find it easy to imagine the situation: a group of people walking in procession with a widow as they carry her dead son out of the city. There is grief, terrible loss, and the sense that the entire community is mourning with this woman.
Then an encounter with Jesus. First he has pity, then he offers consolation, then a single word: arise!
In a moment everything changes. The Lord gives the man back to his mother, the procession is filled with fear and wonder, and God is praised.
We all know that death is a part of life. Like the seasons of the year, there are times for birth, growth, harvest, and death. Yet there are also times when death happens outside this cycle – in moments of tragedy, unforeseen illness, and accident – and our lives are turned upside down in a heartbeat.
In these moments when we are filled with questions, doubts, and uncertainty. And like the widow in today’s Gospel we can invite the Lord to draw near. The same pity, consolation, and hope is ours – Christ meets us in our weakness and with tender compassion he touches our hearts.
His love is empowered through the victory of his death and resurrection. His sacrifice on the Cross opens the gates of Heaven for us. For at the hour of our death we long to look upon Jesus who will say “Arise!” to us and welcome us to eternal life.
Perhaps you are dealing with grief in your life, or perhaps you are walking with someone in the midst of grief. The Gospel today gives us an opportunity to face death with the conviction of faith – this is not the end, but a new beginning with the Lord. May the pity, consolation, and mercy of Jesus help us to be tender with others in their grief, and may it help us to face the hour of our own death with trust in the Lord’s love.