27th Sunday in Ordinary Time C22
We are constantly bombarded with bad news, often tragic news. Whether in the time of Habbakuk, or Jesus, or today, the problem is on-going. God’s vision calls for peace, justice, and love in families, communities, and among nations. And humankind responds with attitudes and actions that instead create chaos, war, violence, and death.
“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? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife and clamorous discord.” (Hb1: 2-3) How long, O Lord, will you let the innocent children suffer from abuse or life-threatening disease? How long, O Lord, will you allow tyrants to rule and wage war? Hong long, O Lord, will you permit weapons of war be in our neighborhoods? How long, O Lord, will you tolerate drugs that take lives rather than restore them? How long, O Lord?
It’s very easy to become downcast, without joy and pessimistic these days, especially if we rely on our human nature alone to solve the problems facing us. But there’s another reality that is in our cosmos and in our lives: God. I’m not suggesting that we turn all our problems to God for God’s solutions and do nothing. We should use our intelligence and good will in cooperation with God. The reality is, that like it or not (and I certainly would like it to be otherwise), that all of us, with any kind of emotional life, will suffer, have misunderstandings, our motives questioned, experience worry, doubt and sleepless nights; and it will be compounded if we try to live and proclaim the Gospel.
On retreat this past week, we took a look at St. Paul’s example. He went through many trials in proclaiming the Gospel after he encountered the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus. The unwavering and central theme of his preaching was the Crucified and Risen Christ. Paul came to understand that his sufferings and afflictions were to be joined with the crucified Christ by which he was filling up what was still necessary to bring about the new creation as well as the resurrection of Christ’s body, the Church. So too with us. Our suffering, our afflictions are not meaningless if we join them to the Crucified Christ. And, if we suffer with Christ, we will also rise with him.
God’s plan, the new creation, is experiencing birth pangs. It is already here but not yet fully in our world, and so we labor to make it more present among all peoples and all creation.
Habbakuk today’s reading with a message of hope:
“For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.” (Hb2:3)