Pastor's Page

My dear friends,

Ah, the question of suffering! We have been suffering as a community, nation and world during this pandemic. We have been suffering the loss of family and friends, job loss, lost vacations, but also the loss of time together. The human person is made for communion, for friendship and relation. Alone in our homes, we endure psychological suffering. We are made to be together, to commune with each other and to commune with God. Worship accomplishes both of those forms of communion, horizontal and vertical, outward to our neighbor and upward to our God. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if we could gather and share more of life with one another, instead of being on Facebook!

Why does suffering exist? Couldn’t God just fix it all? Let me assure you that God is in the process of “fixing it all,” but it is not a snap of the fingers! There is immeasurable woundedness and brokenness in our world, from broken homes to oil spills to gun violence. In his mysterious way, God has chosen to unfold the kingdom with our participation; yes, God is relying on us.

God permits suffering because He has made us for freedom and love. The three hang intrinsically together. To give imperfect creatures the opportunity to love, means there will be misuses of that capacity. Although freedom is for human flourishing, it is freedom (afterall) and can be used for terrible things. Thus, the possibility of suffering is tied intrinsically to our God-given capacity for love. The more we love in harmony with God’s plan, the kingdom unfolds, and all the misuses of freedom over the millenia are gradually healed. So suffering in our world is a sign of the woundedness of the human condition.

But suffering also reveals that creation is in process, has been damaged and needs healing. Creation groans even now awaiting the return of the King. Paul describes the process thus (Rom 8:18-23):

“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. 19 For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God...21 that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; 23 and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.”

Paul’s beautiful insight depicts a process for all of creation, but ushered in by the children of God, but the whole of it groaning under this tension of unfolding.

Today Peter tries to prevent Jesus from suffering. It's a natural response . We desire those we love to be free from suffering, happy, content. “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Jesus responds with some of the strongest words from in the Gospels.

The supernatural response does not evade or circumvent suffering. Rather with God’s grace and blessing, to enter into the gift of moment and to harmonize ourselves with his holy Will. This includes unpleasant, very difficult moments. A man who suffered torture, isolation and Soviet work camps, Fr. Walter Cizek in He Leadeth Me , describes learning to depend on God alone, and seeking to receive joyfully whatever the moment offers as a gift from the Lord, given for the unfolding of this mysterious process of the Kingdom. ( He Leadeth Me , is available on FORMED.org as a free audiobook! A very deep and stirring account of trial and trust.) This book has helped me alot during these weeks to welcome and receive what I would normally find repellant.

Jesus knows full well that his journey goes to the Cross, and leads through death to fullness of life. As faithful followers, I pray we will not abandon our Lord like so many of his disciples but will remain faithful and loving to the end, just like Mary, Mary Magdalene and John the Apostle. May we prove faithful even at the foot of the Cross, even embracing our own crosses as Peter did. Jesus help us with your strength!

In Christ,
Fr. Wilson

Parish Calendar