Ordinary Time 14, Year B
- He comforts us in all our afflictions (2 Cor. 1:4)
An acquaintance confides to me that she has just gone through rough weeks, putting an end to a love relationship of over two years. I feel bad for her, and I try to comfort her with an assurance that in the end, by God’s grace, everything will turn out okay for her.
A single-mother, determined to make the future bright for her daughter and other relatives, tells me again that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has not yet called her to be sworn in as a naturalized citizen. She is concerned because it has been over a year that she passed her citizenship interview and, moreover, she has been diagnosed with lymphoma. She and I agree that, in the face of a life-threatening disease, the question of becoming a citizen matters very little really. I promise to pray for her and I suggest she ask God for a miracle, through the merits of Jesus Christ and the intercession of Bl. Frederic Ozanam.
I run into a gentleman who is at least 70 years old, very devoted to his wife of some 57 years, who passed away only about three weeks ago. Attempting to ease his pain somewhat, I remind him that the Church refers to the death of holy person as a “passing-over.” I then say, “Your beloved wife has moved on to a better place where the weakness and infirmities and ailments of advanced years do not enter into the picture at all.”
The wife of my nephew breaks to me the news that he has just died. Painfully aware of the unbearable pain he was enduring due to stomach cancer, I assure her that her husband is finally free of all suffering. I quickly add that he is finally going to meet his mother— my sister—who died only 18 days after he was born due to complications of childbirth.
I feel some physical discomfort, and I immediately worry myself to restlessness and sleeplessness; I am not able to think or pray. I find myself in some straits, and I get depressed and frustrated, and I just give up. Not infrequently, I end up venting my frustration, anger and despair by blaming others and speaking ill of them.
The above-mentioned situations show that I do not find it difficult to let others’ sufferings proclaim something that could be coming from God. But when it is my turn to suffer, personally, that is, I do not easily find in my ailment or discomfort, or in what I find lacking, some message from God. I do not get to imitate, therefore, the one who discovers that, through the thorn in the flesh that was given to him, God is warning him about being conceited and is revealing to him that grace is sufficient and that power is made perfect in human weakness. Nor do I get to follow what is recommended in chapter VI, number 3, of the Common Rules of the C.M., which goes:
- Members of our own community who are sick should remind
- themselves that they are not kept in bed, or in the hospital,
- just to be nursed and brought back to health by medical help.
- They are also there, as if in a pulpit, to witness publicly to
- Christian virtues, especially patience and acceptance of the
- divine will, at least by their example. In this way they can
- make Christ present to those looking after them and to visitors.
- And through their sickness they themselves can grow in virtue.
And in my not letting my own suffering to communicate to me something from God, I allow to come true in me the saying: “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” Hard of face and obstinate of heart, I end up not truly savoring the wine of wisdom that God offers, as in a toast, when he gives me the opportunity to have a personal experience of the cross.