We have been asked to double our prayers with deeper fervour for peace in the world”, announced the organiser during the social gathering of senior citizens of the church where I serve as priest last Friday. “There is a strange sort of disturbance in the world that needs addressing”, she added. Though she meant the likes of war in Syria where even children suffered due to poisonous gas, my thoughts inadvertently flew farther away from my current location in Austria, to Kathua, Surat, Indore and so on. The organiser having no idea whatsoever of the horrific incidents that shook the nation, causing widespread “disturbance” to the conscience of more than a billion people, was so right. Besides the endless questions that God fearing people raise, along with candle light marches for the ghastly incidents, there is also a strong sense of losing hope in the future — losing faith in human goodness that finds its origin in God’s benevolence.
Reflecting on such distressing situations Christian mystics and theologians contend that God too suffers and feels as much, if not more, helpless as we do. It is such incidents that throw some people out of balance leading them often to abandon their faith in God. “Where indeed is God in such earth-shattering inhuman events”, they ask. And would anyone blame them? Certainly not I! Until of course I am led to the incident that took place 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem with a man named Jesus.
Analysing that whole event from the biblical perspective, the Christian mystics believe that God too writhed in pain when He saw His own son crucified. With all His might and power, He did not intervene to save Jesus. He remained silent and seemingly ignored Jesus’ plea, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”? Completely abandoned by God and by his friends Jesus died a lonely death much like the children in our cruel world.
Suddenly then a new hope dawned as the doubts of the disciples began to slowly change into faith when they saw and heard Jesus in their midst greeting them each time with, “Peace be with you”. God did transform that suffering into such abundant joy and hope that his disciples simply started taking on the world with love and forgiveness. Their hope was converted into concrete good humanitarian deeds. The belief in Jesus’ resurrection actually changed that defeat, that darkness and hopelessness into a new Hope. While God suffers painfully with us, He gives us hope and courage to meet such challenges head on....