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Pulpit Reflections
Desolation vs. consolation PDF Print E-mail

From The Pulpit
Father Tom Kuffel

A homeless man who died of exposure, four sisters of Mother Teresa’s congregation killed in Yemen, the rising incidence of unexplained illnesses in southern Italy plagued with toxic waste, and refugees abandoned in the cold and the latest terrorist bombing, WHY? These recent tragedies and so many others cause great concern.
“Lord, I don’t understand, I don’t know why this happens, But, Jesus, I trust in you!”
This is a beautiful prayer, the only one possible for situations as these for it is also the prayer of parents of disabled children, children afflicted with rare diseases, children who have died too soon, families who have lost loved ones.
Facing the many “dark valleys,” the only possible response is to trust in God. Scripture reminds us, “He never forsakes his people!”(Ps. 94)
The Lord tries to make his people understand that they are close to Him, that they are to walk with Him. “Tell me, have you ever seen a people whose gods are as close to them as I am to you? Says the Lord! Listen, I have accompanied you, I have walked beside you from the beginning, I taught you to walk, like a father with his child.”
God’s closeness to his people is the message that He, Father, wants to give us; but the people do not understand Him because when suffering comes, instead of turning to Him, they blame Him instead of blaming the one they should– Satan.
However, when we understand the resurrection, Jesus Our Savior sends us his Spirit as Sanctifier who leads and guides us: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul” (Ps 23)
Today, experience the Lord who loves; who is always beside me; who is with me in every trial and on every trail. But someone could object: “Pastor this seems like a soap opera because there are so many bad things in life!” Listen again: “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me” (Ps 23). Even when we are in a “dark valley, the Lord is with us.”
Susanna, falsely accused who is about to die, prays to the Lord: “O eternal God, you discern what is secret; You are aware of all things before they come to be; You know that these men have borne false witness against me. And now I am to die! Yet I have done none of the things that they have wickedly invented against me!” (Dan 13:32) Even if I go through a dark valley, I fear no evil, for you are with me; this is Susanna’s experience. She trusted in God and God raised up Daniel to expose the perjury.
We see so many dark valleys, so many disasters, so many people dying of hunger, wars, disabled children, refugees, and terrorism, so many. When you see suffering, the question spontaneously arises: “Where is the Lord? This is precisely Susanna’s feeling, and today it is ours as well.
Consider these four sisters of Mother Teresa’s order slain. They served out of love, and they ended up slain out of hatred! Lord, where are you in all this? How can I trust in you if I see all these things? Then, when things happen to me, each of us might say: How can I trust in you?
It cannot be explained. I am not capable—no one is. Why does a child suffer? Why do loved ones die? Why am I suffering? I don’t know; it’s a mystery. The only thing that gives me hope — not to the mind but to the heart — is Jesus in Gethsemane, “Father, not this cup. But your will be done!” Jesus entrusts Himself to the Father’s will. Jesus knows that all does not end with death or despair. His last words on the Cross, “Father into your hands I commend my spirit”, then He dies -- only to rise!
So I entrust myself by saying, “I don’t know why this happens to me, but I entrust myself into your care for You know why”. So we say the Mercy Prayer:
“Lord, teach me to entrust myself to your hands, to entrust myself to your guidance. Even in brutal moments, in dark times, at the moment of death. I entrust myself to you for you never disappoint, for You are a faithful Father. Jesus, I trust in You!!”