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Reflections

“How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms, by truth when it is attacked by lies, by faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always, in the final act, by determination and faith.”

― Archibald MacLeish

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pope Francis to Pinoys:We must pray "The Prayer of WHY?"

If the Book of Job reaches across two and a half millennia to teach anything to men and women who consider themselves normal, decent human beings, it is this: Human beings are sure to wander in ignorance and to fall into error, and it is better — more righteous in the eyes of God — for them to react by questioning rather than accepting. Confronted with inexplicable injustice, it is better to be irate than resigned.
—William Safire, The First Dissident
Vatican City, Nov 21, 2013 / 04:37 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met with the Filipino community of Rome today, encouraging them in the wake of their native country's recent disaster to never tire of praying, even if the prayer is that of a child.
Referencing the typhoon that wreaked havoc in the Philippines, Pope Francis encouraged, “In these moments of sadness, let the power of this prayer be the most useful: 'the prayer of why.'...And I also accompany you, with this 'prayer of why.'”
“There are many things that we cannot understand. When children begin to grow, they don't understand things and begin to ask questions of their father or mother,” the Pope explained to the group gathered in St. Peter's Basilica on Nov. 21.
A child asks “one after another 'why's” but does not “wait for a response.” Rather, “the child in his insecurity needs his father and mother watch over him. He needs the eyes of his parents, he needs the heart of his parents,” the Pope continued.
As children of God, we must pray “the prayer of why,” especially in moments of difficulty, emphasized Pope Francis.
“In these moments of great suffering, don’t tire of saying, 'Why?' (Be) like children...and so attract the eyes of our Father for your people; draw the tenderness of the 'dad of heaven’ upon yourselves.  Be like the child when asking, ‘Why? Why?’”

Pope Francis had joined Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila and the Filipino community of Rome for a celebration of St. Pedro Calungsod, a Filipino catechist and martyr for the faith. The Pope blessed a mosaic icon of the young man who was proclaimed a saint by Benedict XVI last October.
Cardinal Tagle spoke of the struggles of the people in the Philippines, as well as their courage in the face of frightening circumstances. Pope Francis embraced the cardinal at the end of his remarks, assuring him of his “closeness and prayers.”

The honoring of St. Pedro Calungsod in St. Peter’s Basilica comes at a crucial time for the people of the Philippines, who are struggling to recover from the recent typhoon.
“Even though we have experienced disasters, there is still hope that we can gain again our hope,” she said.

Fr. Jan Limchua, a diocesan priest of Cebu, Philippines, expressed his gratitude to be in attendance at  today’s gathering, noting that Calungsod's witness is particularly important “because we are in the year of faith.”
There are no words to describe the anguish being felt by those who are suffering today; our heart and prayers have – and will – go out to them. There are so many tragic stories, so much pain. And many people are asking the question, “Why? Why did God allow this?”

That “why” question goes back thousands of years. It was asked in the Old Testament by Job and the writers of the Psalms.Why all of this if there’s a loving and powerful God? Why do bad things happen to good people?
By Lee Strobel
But if you’ve never asked why our world is infected with pain and suffering, you will when they strike you with full force or they come to a loved one. And Jesus said they are coming. Unlike some other religious leaders who wrote off pain and suffering as just being illusions, Jesus was honest. He told us the truth. He said in John 16:33, “You will have suffering in this world.” He didn’t say you might – he said it is going to happen.

I cannot stand in the shoes of God and give a complete answer to that question. I don’t have God’s mind. I don’t see with God’s eyes. First Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”

So when you ask about specific individual events and want to know why this particular thing happened, we won’t get the full answer in this world. .

But for us, let’s focus on the big, overarching issue of why God generally allows suffering in our lives – your life and mine. Friends, this is important: even though we can’t understand everything about it, we can understand some things.

We may not be able to make out all the peripheral details of why — they may be obscured from our view — but there are some key Biblical truths that can illuminate some points of light for us. And if we follow those lights, they will lead us in the right direction, toward some conclusions that I believe can help satisfy our hearts and souls.

What are those points of light? Let me go through five of them that I’ve personally found helpful whenever I’ve been prompted to ask the question, “Why?” The first point of light: God is not the creator of evil and suffering.

This answers the question you hear so often: “Why didn’t God merely create a world where tragedy and suffering didn’t exist?” The answer is: He did! Genesis 1:31 says: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

But if God is not the author of tragedy or evil or death, where did they come from? Well, God has existed from eternity past as the Father, Son and Spirit, together in a relationship of perfect love. So love is the highest value in the universe. And when God decided to create human beings, he wanted us to experience love. But to give us the ability to love, God had to give us free will to decide whether to love or not to love. Why? Because love always involves a choice.

So in order for us to experience love, God bestowed on us free will. But unfortunately, we humans have abused our free will by rejecting God and walking away from Him. And that has resulted in the introduction of two kinds of evil into the world: moral evil and natural evil.

Moral evil is the immorality and pain and suffering and tragedy that come because we choose to be selfish, arrogant, uncaring, hateful and abusive. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

So much of the world’s suffering results from the sinful action or inaction of ourselves and others. For example, people look at a famine and wonder where God is, but the world produces enough food for each person to have 3,000 calories a day. It’s our own irresponsibility and self-centeredness that prevents people from getting fed.
But if you doubt God’s promise, listen to what a wise man said : God took the very worst thing that has ever happened in the history of the universe — deicide, or the death of God on the cross — and turned it into the very best thing that has happened in history of universe: the opening up of heaven to all who follow Him. So if God can take the very worst circumstance imaginable and turn it into the very best situation possible, can he not take the negative circumstances of your life and create something good from them?

He can and He will. God can use our suffering to draw us to Himself, to mold and sharpen our character, to influence others for Him – He can draw something good from our pain in a myriad of ways…if we trust and follow Him.

Now, the third point of light: The day is coming when suffering will cease and God will judge evil.

A lot of times you’ll hear people say: “If God has the power to eradicate evil and suffering, then why doesn’t He do it?” And the answer is that because He hasn’t done it yet doesn’t mean He won’t do it.

And the Bible says that the story of this world isn’t over yet. It says the day will come when sickness and pain will be eradicated and people will be held accountable for the evil they’ve committed. Justice will be served in a perfect way. That day will come, but not yet.

So what’s holding God up? One answer is that some of you may be. He’s actually delaying the consummation of history in anticipation that some of you will still put your trust in Him and spend eternity in heaven. He’s delaying everything out of His love for you. SecondPeter 3:9 says: “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”To me, that’s evidence of a loving God, that He would care that much for you.