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Why good people suffer

By Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

Once a distraught man knelt in front of a life-size crucifix and poured out his problems and sufferings.

He was startled when the Lord suddenly spoke from the cross: “Alright, stop crying now. I know how you feel. Let’s exchange places. I’ll carry all your sufferings and you hang here on the cross, 24 hours a day!

The man replied: “Err… Well… you see, Lord, I was not really serious. Thank you… Bye.”

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In this “valley of tears,” we all have our own trials and adversities. The above story shows that even the Son of God underwent terrible pains and sufferings.

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There’s a devoted husband and father of three children. He’s forty-seven years old, a respected doctor in the community and active member of the parish.

He’s lying in a hospital bed wracked with intolerable pain; his days are numbered. Cancer has spread from his pancreas throughout his abdomen. There’s one unanswered question in his mind and in the minds of his family and friends. That one question is, “Why?”

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Why good people suffer instead of being rewarded in this life by the God they faithfully serve.

Moreover, people do get to wondering why some who seem to care nothing at all about God and religion apparently prosper, while the good and God-fearing struggle with a host of trials and sufferings.

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In the first reading of this 5th Sunday in ordinary time, Job wondered, too, about why the good must suffer when he lost thousands of his cattle and “a lightning struck his sheep and servants; his seven sons and three daughters were crushed to death after a violent wind struck their house.” That was not enough. Satan struck Job with the serious ulcer from the sole of his feet to the top of his head.

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His wife, a mulier fortis, taunted him to deny his God. To which Job replied: “You speak like a foolish woman.

You have received good things from the hand of God, why should we not receive bad either?”

His “friends” even tried to convince him that he must have committed some heinous sin that had brought on God’s wrath and punishment. Job searched his heart, but could honestly find no wrongdoing.

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The story of Job teaches that a good, faithful life in this world is NO GUARANTEE that you will be immune from trials and sufferings.

But the story teaches, too, that if one is faithful and patient amidst trials, he will be rewarded just like Job whose destroyed properties were restored two-fold and his children were also restored to life.

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Jesus was concerned with the problem of human suffering in all its forms as shown in this Sunday’s gospel. We see him curing people who were afflicted with various diseases, including the simple fever of Peter’s mother-in-law (cf. Mk 1,30). But he never abolished suffering altogether.

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By the way, a witty guy said that the reason why Peter nursed a grudge against the Lord, denying him three times, was because he cured his mother-in-law.

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We may not be able to do healing miracles as Jesus did. But much of the world’s suffering would be minimized if we would be more caring, more generous and sensitive to the feelings of our fellowmen.

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ASK YOURSELF: Are you a cause of suffering to your fellowmen or are you God’s instrument of healing?

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