As I have come to know more and more of the parishioners, and their families, on a personal level, it becomes clear to me that living our faith in the midst of human struggles is not always easy. This of course I have always known through my own experience of family and community life. We all know times of great personal and family joy, where life seems to run smoothly, and we feel the nearness of God, both in our personal prayer and in our parish liturgies.
But we also know what it is to live in times of uncertainty and anguish, times when we wonder where God is to be found in the midst of suffering. We all have to live through times of doubt and fear, wondering why we ourselves, or those we most cherish in our hearts, go through such times of difficulty. These experiences can be of loss and bereavement, of anxiety about the well-being of those we love, and of our own personal insecurities. Many of us have to go through times of loneliness and a sense of personal anxiety. We know too the fears brought about by economic struggles and anxiety about the future, as well as the thought of our personal weakness and sinfulness.
Again, we all know that living out our family life is not always easy, as we struggle to come to terms and accept the weakness of those we love most. We live with fears about the future in so many ways, and, of course, we are always faced with the prospect of our own death and the death of those whom we carry in our hearts.
It is important that we recognise that this has always been the human condition. No one has ever lived a life which is completely free of anxiety and troubled times. But our human struggle with all that life throws at us is the only place where we can express our faith that, in the midst of ordinary life, we do not walk alone. In the great prayer that Jesus taught us, we do not ask for the gift of endless joy, but rather that we will not be tested beyond what we can endure. So our Catholic faith is not to be understood as an escape from the difficulties that life inevitably brings upon us, but a deep belief that in Jesus, our Most Holy Redeemer, we have One who has taken upon Himself the suffering of all humanity, and through His Resurrection, brings hope and trust that ultimately, all will be well for us.
Our faith is centred on the belief that every moment of our lives are significant to the God who loves us, and that in His love, we will all one day come to the realisation that God’s love for us is eternal, and that we will all be gathered together in His love in utter joy and love.
This central hope of our faith is given shape in the beautiful second reading from todays’ Mass, in the Book of Revelation. Here we are told: “We shall be His people, and God Himself will be with us. He shall wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more. Neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more. Behold I make all things new.”
This is our Easter faith. This is the reason for our perseverance in trust. May we be consoled and find joy in our hearts to know that we are so much treasured and loved.
Fr Gerard, CSsR