Our Vulnerable World
“War always does grave harm to the environment and to the cultural riches of the people, risks which are magnified when one considers nuclear arms and biological weapons” Laudato Si’ 56-57
I am writing this reflection as we enter Holy Week. It is also a week after the horrendous suffering inflicted on the people of Syria by the use of chemical weapons. Etched forever in my mind will be the picture of the young Syrian Muslim father who had just buried his whole family, including his young wife and their little 10-month old twins. He said to the reporter “I know Allah takes revenge, but Allah what did my two little sweethearts do?” as tears flowed in torrents from his eyes. Why, where is God? It is a question as old as humanity itself: Why do the innocent suffer?
I couldn’t help but hear Jeremiah say to God “Lord you duped me, and I let myself be duped”. Nevertheless, Jeremiah and countless people in every time and place remained faithful in the face of horrendous suffering and enigmatic questions. When we look to Jesus on the cross, we hear him cry in his total disbelief that he could be forgotten “My God, my God why have you forsaken me”
Pain, suffering and the seeming absence of God accompany all our lives at different times and to varying degrees. We look for answers that echo a deep resonance in the struggle of our own souls so that our trust can be deep, and our faith and hope grow strong.
It is Jesus’ cross that gives meaning to every cross, Jesus’ resurrection that is the source of Christian hope. Our Vincentian charism calls us to stand at the foot of many people’s crosses as we reach out in service. As our personal sin contributes to the cross of Jesus, so too our good deeds, our prayer, our union with Jesus, contributes to building the Kingdom of God. This is so not only where we are, but in distant places we will never see, where war, poverty, discrimination and violence threaten the very existence of humanity. We are each a small part of Jesus’ mission of salvation and each one is called to plant seeds of hope by our prayer and action in the face of unimaginable suffering.
Catherine Mulligan DC