Yaldo-Feast of the Nativity-Freedom from Suffering
St. Johns MTC, NY
2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.
The Christian community throughout the world was saddened Sunday morning(Dec. 11, 2016) to learn of the bombing of the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo. Twenty-five people, mostly women and children, were killed and many more injured. As heartbreaking as the news was, there was undoubtedly a feeling of collective numbness. After living under a constant barrage of similar news for the past few months, it is easy to understand violence and suffering as an unavoidable part of our existence. It has become something we accept with grim resignation and then swiftly move on.Christianity has a unique relationship with suffering. We do not claim we can avoid it or live a life without it. In fact, we are called to embrace it, to live among it, and to even boast in it (as Paul does). And when we live such an intimate existence with suffering, we often fail to leave room for any hope of reprieve. And this leads us to two of the most saddening pitfalls of suffering. First, we fail to react to suffering. While we are called to live amidst suffering, we are certainly not called to stare impassively and idly in its face. The most vivid example of this is when Jesus feeds the five thousand. In John 6, Jesus asks Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” and Philip replies “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”. Philip accepts the situation before him as impossible, but what he forgets, just as we often forget, is that all things are possible with God, including a world without suffering. Jesus did not die to maintain a broken world but rather to make a way for us to change it. This leads us to the second pitfall of suffering: the belief that it will always be like this. What we should remember, especially this advent season, is that God sees our suffering and the brokenness of this world and says that this is not what I intend for you. Isaiah 9:2 says “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” The birth of Christ is a powerful reminder that God’s ultimate plan is not for us to suffer but rather to save us from our suffering. This Christmas season let us avoid the pitfalls of suffering. Even though we are constantly surrounded by it, let us not be complacent or accepting of the suffering around us but rather work actively to alleviate it wherever we see it. Let us also remember that Jesus’ birth into this world was because of the God who is neither complacent nor accepting of suffering.
PRAYERFather, help us to understand that pain, suffering, and brokenness are not what You have intended for this world. Remind us that You have a plan for every one of us. Thank you for sending Your son into this world and for Your redemptive plan that has lifted us out of our brokenness and sin. We exalt You and praise You above all else . Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
What actions can we take to alleviate the pain and suffering around us?