God is real in the midst of suffering Fr. Anthony Le
Yesterday, I had an opportunity to dialogue with our parents in our community. She brought up a very serious concern among our young people. Perhaps, many of us belong here at Saint Joseph. She recalls how her children participated in catholic school, in faith formation, went through all of those programs, for confirmation as well. And yet just after a year into college, she decided the faith of the church is no longer needed - there's no God. Now, she came back home, having two other siblings. She tells them that there's no God, there's no need for God. Because everything we need, we could have, everything we want we could have also. there's no need for God whatsoever. Now, the younger sister decided that this year, she may not receive confirmation because she has no need of God, and he's not real. therefore, no need for confirmation that would be a lie. Obviously, the mother was very, very distraught. and she gave me an answer that perhaps we could all reflect upon, in light of the gospel today.
All my children never experienced a single difficult day in their life. They did not know what suffering meant. They did not know when you need God, and how meaningful God is for us. Remind you, this is a mother who belonged to a family that decided to escape vietnam. The chance of success is almost zero. Belong to the boat people, who experience the suffering and horror of war, Horror of being a refugee. Being out there in the middle of the ocean, relying only on God for survival. the group of people who appreciate life and God, all because of suffering and pain they endure. Instead of complaining, instead of condemning, instead of denying God, they say God is real in the midst of suffering.
So my dear brothers and sisters, today on this palm sunday, when we started out our procession with a prayer, and we thank God because we thanks to his invitation, thanks to his death on the cross, thanks to the cross that we become partakers of the cross, and therefore partakers of God's resurrection. We thank him for the cross precisely. and in today's gospel we see that in the midst of suffering, we really understand how weak we are, how terrible sins are - both physical and moral evils. how terrible they are. At the same time, we experience the need for salvation. because we could not really face death alone without trembling. and yet on the other side of suffering, thanks to our lord Jesus order yes to the heavenly father's plan. through the cross he unveils the mystery of suffering, that our lord let us know. In the midst of suffering, we encounter also the loving and the merciful God. how many times our lord Jesus asked us to take up the cross and follow me. The cross of our lord today, let me remind you, it is not just wood that he has to carry on his shoulders, it is not the wooden beam that he has to carry. That is just the visible sign of what actually makes him carry the crust of our sins. the heavy weight of our rejection.
look at peter, look at judas, look at those who calling on him, crucify him, crucify him after witnessing every beautiful things that he had done, how many lives he has saved, how many people he fed, and how many beautiful teachings, how many broken souls he has saved, and yet they crucify him, crucify him. That is the weight of the cross on his shoulders. My dear brothers and sisters, and that what it looks like to carry a cross? it is the man who rejected him, it is a disciple who turned away from him, it is the woman who was caught in adultery ,it is the samaritan woman who lives an immortal life, it is you and I that he carries on our and his shoulders.
let's be honest, let's name the cross of our life at this moment, so that we know that in a minute of suffering, we could truly encounter and understand that God is truly real. he's not fictional character produced by hollywood, or greek methodology, or ancient hebrew story that's no longer relevant to our life. He's real in the midst of suffering. because in the midst of suffering, the one who crucified him on the cross knelt down, and proclaimed this man is truly innocent, and he is truly God. Amazing isn't it.
So what is the cross in our life? could it be your friend who betrayed us, could it be a young child addicted to media, could that be a husband who's no longer faithful, could it be ourselves, the sins that we committed, could it be everything that witnessed in the world, could it be the cross made by satan, could it be the cross made by our political leaders, could it be cross that we fabricated by our own imagination, our own ideologies. So my dear brothers and sister whatever the cross looked like, or at the shape, and it weighs, our lord Jesus is saying today. you don't have to carry it alone. We don't have to carry it alone, we don't have to be doomed by it. we could carry along with our lord. He has carried it to the end. and at this moment in time, in this beautiful season of lant, and we enter into the holy week. Let's once again be reminded of the fact that God so loved the world that he took up the cross, embraced it, kissed it, to let you know, let us know, that we are worth dying for. Our dignity, our power, our glory, rest upon this only single act on the cross - The love of our lord has gone all the way to the end to save you and save me.
so my dear brothers and sisters, as we suffer through life, as we identify the cross in our life, don't forget that our lord is on the cross also crying out to the father. Father forgive them for what they know not, forgive them for what they have done to you, and to me, and to one another, forgive them because they are your children. Our lord is continually inviting you and I to forgive one another. just like simon who carried along with our lord Jesus, just like Jesus in need of consolation by his own mother, and those who stood at the foot of the cross. we need one another, we need God along the journey of life.
The same people who say we don't need God are among the people who are most lonely. I'm talking about our teens, our young adults, the people supposed to be connected, but the ones who feel most lonely and desperate, among the highest depression rates. so my brothers and sisters, denying God doesn't make them happier, walking away from the faith doesn't make them more connected. So it's our responsibility to live through the suffering of life, to offer ourselves a sacrificial offering to God. and therefore, unveil the beautiful face of our lord merciful, loving, and kind. Let's do it together as a community of faith which is doing Hosanna in the highest. The one who walks in through the Jerusalem gate as a king. No not just that, we should wholesand him today and forever. Everywhere we go. Let's make it real, let's make it tangible, and let's make it amazingly attractive. Only then, can we listen to the promise of our lord to the thief "Today you will be with me in paradise". Suffering leads to admission of our need for Christ, and when we open our eyes and hearts for him, heaven is guaranteed.