Jesus Suffers With Us

Thursday of Week 34 in Ordinary Time - Cycle I

Dan. 6:12-18 & Lk. 21:20-28

We think of God as a loving Father who cares for all His children. What then are we to make of today's readings? Are we wondering, 'How can God love His children if He treats them so badly?'

Daniel was forced to spend a night in a pit with lions. He had to endure the terrible fear of being killed by those ferocious animals, an ordeal which you and I would certainly not like to face, before God saved him.

In the Gospel, Jesus warns His disciples of the natural disasters which would occur. We have seen many examples of such disasters in recent months, with cyclones and earthquakes striking various parts of the world. Many observers of these tragedies have been tempted to ask, 'Why does God allow such terrible suffering?'

It is difficult to find an explanation for suffering. Is there one? The only way I can approach the problem is by remembering that God never asks us to endure anything which He Himself has not suffered. He sent His beloved Son Jesus into our world, an innocent victim who would undergo a cruel death, in order save the guilty. Jesus knew how it felt to be abused, rejected, tortured and to die alone and in pain. There is nothing we can suffer that He has not already experienced. When He said, "Whatever you do to one of these little ones you do to Me," He was emphasising the fact that He does not merely feel sorry for us, but He feels our pain with us.

Suffering is part of our human condition. It is unavoidable although some people seem to have more to endure than others. We see news film of earthquake victims trapped under tons of rubble, or people who have lost their homes and their families in a devastating flood, and our hearts go out to them. Where is Jesus in all this? He is not an indifferent bystander. He is there suffering with them and helping them to bear it. Surety, this has to be the consoling answer to all suffering. We have a God who does feel and care for us.

Lord Jesus, we pray for those whose sickness is known only to You. May they know the nearness of Your love. May Your Spirit refresh and renew them. Heavenly Father and Mary, our mother, be their comfort.