Isaiah 10:5-7, 13b-16
"The Lord will not abandon his people." Psalm 94:14 (Responsorial Psalm)
Over the last couple of weeks, I have had the chance to visit some people that I haven’t seen in a long time. Age has seems to have done something to them. They seem to be much more concern about the current state of affairs in our world. These are people of faith and yet they seemed to have lost hope in the Providence of God.
For some reason people today imagine the present more evil than the past. For example, my friend lived during the Great Depression, during which affected millions of people and caused untold suffering and misery. He also lived during the Second World War, when millions and millions of people died violent and painful deaths in faraway lands. There were brutal dictators who systematically put to death millions of people because of their race and ethnicity. Memory will sometimes reduce the pain of human suffering that we have experienced.
No one is saying that these times are better or ideal. The realities of war, natural disasters and dictatorships continue to rain down suffering and pain upon innocent people. Maybe it is the constant reporting of disasters that provoke great anxiety and stress among us. Or it could also be sensational reporting that puts blame upon scapegoats in order to offer simple solutions to complex realities. For some, it seems that God has abandoned the world and has allowed evil to triumph.
It seems to me that every generation looks upon its present time and declares it the worst ever. In the fifties, it was the dictators within the Soviet Union and China, the military juntas in Latin America and the communist take-over in the United States. In the sixties, it was the disintegration of the establishment by the hippie revolution, the hedonism of the emerging generation, incurable epidemics and the addictions to drugs. We could go on and on. Each decade had "prophets" of doom who declared that the world would soon come to an end because of our worsening human condition.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus assures us that God has not abandoned us, even when we are surrounded by affliction and disasters that we cannot humanly understand, even by the wise and the learned. Jesus praises his Father for being in charge. He reveals to us that those who trust God as children trust their parents are ones who are truly blessed. They do not take on God’s role, thinking that they are the ones who have to figure out how God is going to prevent all of these terrible things from happening. God saves us one person at a time and one community at a time. And God gives us the resources we need to overcome any kind of suffering that we encounter. It is called Grace. It begins with Faith. It is made manifest by Love. So, we do not despair, but embrace Hope.
Trust is such a beautiful thing! This is what makes Jesus’ prayer in today’s Gospel such a timely one. Today, let us give praise to God for all the good things we have received and the courage to deal with the injustices that surround us. We are God’s children, after all.
Fr. Clemente Barrón, C.P. is a member of Immaculate Conception Community in Chicago, Illinois.