Standing Firm in Faith Despite Adversity

Reflection for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Executive Director, Patrick Carolan

This reflection was originally posted in our September 30th newsletter

Sunday’s first reading from Habakkuk makes the statement: “How long, O LORD? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery?” How many of us have felt this way? We often feel abandoned by God. I imagine over the years all those people bound in slavery cried out but felt abandoned. Why doesn’t God intervene? As a boy I was sexually abused by a Catholic priest. I still ask God the question: “Why didn’t you intervene? How could you have let this happen to me?”

I have heard priests give homilies about suffering being part of God’s plan, how we may not understand why but on judgement day we will understand our suffering was a key part of the kingdom. I cannot believe a God who is the epicenter of love, who created us in love could be so cruel as to allow what happened to me or what is happening today to children on the border, or to children who are trafficked and sold into sex slavery.

Some of our theology teaches us that creation was a one time static event. God created perfection and nothing has changed. By this logic, my suffering was just a means to help bring us back to that perfection. Nothing from God’s creation is changing. But we know that everything is changing. The theologian John Haught in his book Resting on the Future: Catholic Theology For an Unfinished Universe suggests a different story. He suggests that our universe was not a finished product the moment of creation but rather an unfinished universe. Or as Sr. Ilia Delio, OSF puts it, “If we take the future as our starting point for thinking about God, creation, and humanity—then everything we know must change or rather be realigned to an evolving universe, including our theologies, philosophies, economic and political systems, cultural matrices—in short, our planetary life.” If Haught and Delio are correct and the universe is constantly changing and evolving, then my and your suffering and pain is not part of some master plan by a cruel God. Rather it is part of the suffering of growth that happens with the creation of a new Heaven.

In our second reading from 2 Timothy we are told: “I remind you, to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” Think about what that means. Acting in a spirit of cowardice during this time of crisis that we live in. In my nine years as executive director of FAN I have been constantly attacked by some people. I have been accused of acting in league with satan, of not being Catholic or Franciscan. I even had one person say he hoped my son would be killed by Muslim terrorists then I would understand the need for a Muslim ban. These people are not acting out of love; they are cowards.

The reading goes on to say “So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” The strength that comes from God is love. Love of all creation and all creatures. If we do not act out of love we are not following the teachings of Jesus.

Peace and All Good,
Patrick Carolan
FAN Executive Director

Published in: on October 1, 2019 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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