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Word Alive — Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD

May 07, 23, 2023 / 5th Sunday of Easter – A

A distraught man approaches a priest and asks: “Please bless me, Father, because my son is a drug user, my daughter an unwed mother, and my wife a gambler.

The priest, getting tired listening to his problems, says: “Isn’t there anything positive in your life? The man pauses for a moment then replies: “Me, Father…HIV positive!”

Of course, HIV positive is still negative. But that joke illustrates that in this “valley of tears” or world we live in, we encounter a lot of trials, problems, and adversities.

* * *

We are distressed by a lot killings, hold-ups, and sinking boats, oil spill, heat strokes. These are compounded by personal and family problems like those who cannot afford to pay their house rentals or expensive medications, and lingering sicknesses.

* * *

Despite all this, Christ exhorts us that we must never lose faith. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” Jesus tells his disciples in this 5th Sunday gospel. He says further, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust in Me” (Jn 14,1).

* * *

Christ’s words are very consoling and reassuring. But for some, they don’t strike us as reassuring and even unrealistic. How can Jesus assure me not to worry when my creditors are running and I don’t know where to get money fast? Or when I have this life-threatening sickness?

* * *

Too often we allow our worries and anxieties to overcome us instead of we overcoming them. We are so used to depending on ourselves that we leave no room for God’s working in our life.

We go to the doctor when we have some ailment or sickness and that’s good. But do we also go to God and say a prayer at the Church and bring our problem to Him?

* * *

There’s the story about a woman named Delia. She experienced a very unstable and unhappy childhood. The turning point in her life came when she married David, a fine young man in every aspect.

In the marriage, Delia found stability and the joy she had been denied during her growing-up years. Then came the first child and with the birth, the discovery that Delia had multiple sclerosis (hardening of the arteries)!

* * *

Delia and David could not comprehend why despite her joyful turnaround, she encountered the deadly sickness. But they trust God and did much to enrich the lives of people around them. Delia, still only in her mid-thirties, was talking to a close friend who marvelled at her tremendous trust in God’s goodness.

* * *

“Don’t you ever have any doubts?” the friend asked. “No,” Delia good-naturedly replied, “because I know that God has other plan for me.” Although Delia died, she was at peace and in deep faith with God.

Jesus himself pleaded with his Father at the Garden of Gethsemane that night before he was arrested: “Take this cup (of suffering) away from me.” Did he get his wish? Did his Father relent? No. Jesus could only bow to God’s will and say, “Lord, not my will but your will be done.”

* * *

If you can solve your problems or lighten the heavy burden, by all means do it. But when the situations are beyond remedy, then you just have to accept with patience and offer your heartaches to God.

The theologian Reinhold Niebuhr beautifully puts it, thus: “God, grant me the COURAGE to change the things I can change, the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, and the WISDOM to know the difference between both.”

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