Two angels came to earth, disguised as poor, lost travelers. At the first home they visited, they found a very wealthy couple who refused to invite them in, and sent them away, cold, hungry and exhausted. Before leaving, one angel placed a valuable gift behind the bushes of the home. At the second home, was a very poor family with four children. With scarcely enough for their family, the couple invited the angels in, shared some of their food with them and let them rest in the warm bed for the night. The next morning before the two angels left, one angel put a huge hole in the foundation of the house.
The second angel was very puzzled by these actions of the first angel. “I don’t understand why you left a valuable treasure in the first house when the people there was so mean and spiteful and caused such a burden on the second family who gave all they had for us.”
“Everything is not always as it seems,” replied the first angel. “When the first couple discovers the treasure, they will be consumed by their greed. They will argue and fight and the treasure will fall to the ground and be destroyed. They will become even more miserable. The second couple will see the damaged foundation, and at first be distraught. When the husband goes to repair it he will find a treasure that has been buried there for a very long time, and the family will be able to live and be happy.”
In the Hebrew Testament, Job is upset and confused over his great losses. He thinks God is treating him unjustly. Job has led a life of piety, hasn’t done anything to deserve this kind of treatment, and blames God for his misery. He cannot see beyond the here and now.
How often in our own lives have we questioned God’s wisdom when it comes to pain and suffering? Why did God let this happen to me, or to us? God does not cause suffering; but God permits it in our human life. It is a result of sin in the world, imperfection and evil that exists since the fall of Adam and Eve. There was no pain or suffering when God created the universe. That was not part of God’s plan. However, God gave us free will, and that allowed not only pain and suffering, but also the grace of God to give us consolation and comfort. Often it is through pain and suffering that we can come to a new understanding of God’s power and enter into a deeper relationship.
In chapter 9 of John’s Gospel we read: As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” Then Christ healed the man of his blindness and many came to believe in Jesus and became his disciples. It is often like that with us as well. In faith we can see the hand of God in our everyday life, whether it be in our joys or in our sorrows, in times of prosperity and in times of need.
Even now, as our country goes through crisis, we can see the hand of God. Bishop O’Connell warned in his letter regarding the Federal order to violate our consciences and provide health insurance that will pay for abortions and contraceptives is a violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. Certainly this is not something that we would choose or want. How can God allow this? Watch how God can bring good even out of this.
First, it has united many people within the Catholic community to want to do something to show their anger and displeasure. We can our congressional representatives and senators by mail, phone or email.
Second, it has brought other faiths alongside us to stand together against this violation of the first amendment right to religious freedom. It has unified us as did the terrible attack on September 11.
Third, it will show the power of God when the victory has been achieved. For many years, our country has travelled a path that has taken us further and further from our democratic and religious roots. This is our wake-up call to turn back to God.
Let each of us here today resolve to pray and fast for the good of our nation and our world. Let us place our trust in Almighty God and live by the motto of our Great Nation: “IN GOD WE TRUST”.