|Raphael's Resurrection of Jesus|
Here's a bit of simple wisdom I like: may your troubles be less, may your blessings be more, and may happiness come through your door. That's all in the Bible, and it’s my prayer for each of you, especially our veterans whom we honor this Veterans Day.
Sunday’s word of God in the book of Maccabees describes the martyrdom of a mother and her seven sons. They stood up for their beliefs and died for them. The author may be asking us, do we speak up for what's right?
The Letter to the Christian community at Thessaloniki urges the community to persevere in their discipleship with Jesus. God will strengthen them, the author writes, so they can fix their hearts on God. That’s a good message for us as well.
In the Gospel according to Luke, Jesus and the Sadducees talk about mortality and immortality. The Sadducees, who don’t believe in life after death, use an absurd example of seven brothers marrying the same sister-in-law and then dying. ”Who’s her husband in the next life?” they ask.
But Jesus distinguishes between “this age” and “the next age.” And even Moses had alluded to life after death.
From a Christian perspective, hidden in every Good Friday is the glory of Easter, when God transformed Jesus into a new awesome spiritualized body. The disciples knew him in the breaking of the bread. The resurrection was real, even though they couldn’t name his new mode of spiritual embodiment. And that new life one day will be ours.
Meantime, we have our Good Fridays. Sometimes problems seem to overwhelm us. In trying times, we may wonder, where is God? This eternal question is highlighted in the book of Job, in the Confessions of Saint Augustine, in the novels of Dostoevsky, and in recent best sellers.
As we reflect upon the human situation, we realize that our planet is wounded, so to speak. At times, suffering results from immoral behavior, from misuse of freedom, from tyranny. At other times, suffering results from natural disasters, from an incomplete universe, a universe in progress.
But ultimately, suffering is a mystery. How respond?
First, remember that God is always near us, closer to us than we are to ourselves. God forever seeks to bring us to the fullness of life.
Second, avoid negative judgments about ourselves. To think, I really deserve it, is a form of self-hatred. God loves us unconditionally.
Finally, remember that the mystery of inescapable suffering has healing and redemptive power. Jesus, through the mystery of his death and resurrection, healed us, reconnected us to God in friendship. Yes, our inescapable aches and pains, born with love, can bring forth new depths of life in ourselves and in others.
As we remember our deceased loved ones in November, we may ask, how do we come to terms with our own dying? Some counselors help people cope by encouraging them to begin drafting a letter to loved ones. This may highlight the most important gifts we can leave them: love, faith in God, hope in life eternal, compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude. This is not the end, but a beginning.