Today we hear of Jesus curing the paralytic after forgiving his sins. Jesus exercises a work of mercy – not just visiting the sick, but healing and forgiving the sick. St. Paul, in the pasage we just heard from his letter to the Romans lists as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit acts of mercy done with cheerfulness.
Not only did Jesus act with mercy, but his fellow townspeople of Capharnaum also did by bring the paralyzed man to Jesus in the first place. Jesus heals – Jesus always heals. God does not send suffering, illness or death upon us. These are the result of living in a fallen world where sin reigns in the hearts of people. That is why Jesus forgave the paralytic’s sins before he cured him.
Last week the newspapers and television news programs were continuous in their reporting of the Orlando massacre. Suffering was brought on so many by death and injury. The event, though, also showed how many people demonstrated mercy in their caring for the injured, even in the efforts to protect others from the shooting.
Suffering is such a constant in human experience. It appears in the form of evil, such as the massacre, in pain, grief, death and depression. It touches every life at some point and we ask, why me? Why now? Where is God in all of this? It’s not a question of whether we are going to have trials in life, but how we will respond to them when they come into our lives. The response is never easy because suffering hurts.
First, let me again point out that suffering is not sent to us by God to test us. If that were the case, Jesus would have told the paralytic to offer up his sufferings, that God was testing him, rather than forgiving him and curing him. The people of Capharnaum turned to God rather than trusting in their own resources. The presence of suffering should have that same result in each of us.
Sometimes we suffer because of other people’s evil; sometimes by our own foolishness. Suffering is never easy. It often reveals areas of need, weaknesses and wrong attitudes and turns our attention to where we need to improve our lives.
If responded to in a positive way, suffering can help us build our trust in God rather than breaking it down. When we respond to suffering in a positive way it proves our character and integrity along with the quality of our faith.
In the process of enduring suffering, we are purified and advance in perfection. Just as the people of Capharnaum were struck with awe and glorified God, we, also, can use the opportunity of suffering for God’s glory and our own further transformation into the divine life. However, this can only happen if we cooperate with God in the process, which can, at times, be long-lasting. Our cooperation with God in the midst of our suffering allows the process to work and allows us to experience inner peace and joy in the midst of our trials.
Yes, suffering is inevitable in our fallen world. The question is how will we respond to our own suffering and how we will respond to the sufferings of those around us. Will we be as compassionate as the people of Capharhaum. Will we bring our sufferings and those of others to the healing and forgiving power of Jesus? Will we stand firm in our faith in God’s goodness?