a parish priest, 28/08/2016

The terrible tragedy of the earthquake in Italy brings to our attention all of the evil and suffering that constantly afflicts our world. The immensity of it strikes us so that what we often take for granted or ignore or turn from can no longer be ignored. It makes us realise that there is so much in our world that escapes explanation, so much in our world that we do not understand. It is no wonder that many people, in the light of our inability to make sense of the world, can find no reason for faith and many more see faith as irrelevant to their life. We need to make sense of life, we need to be able to find a path through life that offers us a semblance of control, yet in the face of disasters like the earthquake, or in the face of the everyday evils that we face in the course of our life, we have to acknowledge that the control we do have in life is limited at best. Even those who amass wealth or power in the search for a greater control over their life are finally helpless before the limits of our human nature and the limits of creation. We do not like limits as human beings, we are constantly trying to stretch them or break free from them, from athletes, to explorers, but even as children we try to push the boundaries of what we are capable of. Such endeavours are necessary for us as human beings if we are to survive and prosper. Perhaps it is this fundamental aspect of our nature, this need to control and conquer and grow that makes it difficult to believe in the face of tragedies we cannot deny. They seem to deny the very truth of our humanity, the truth of evolution that it is the fittest who will survive.


But there is another truth to who we are and that is that we will not survive alone, we need one another. It is when we are convinced of our own strength that we fail as human beings. Love, which is needed by every person, is the exact opposite of independence; it is about interdependence, it is about opening ourselves to another and allowing our weaknesses to be accepted by them and ourselves to be supported so that we are stronger together, with others. It is when we seek only independence and search for a way through life that exalts our own strength ignoring the frailty that is ours, that we struggle with faith in God. We struggle because we seek a faith that is about our won independence and God as someone who supports that and helps us achieve that. But that kind of faith refuses to acknowledge the truth of who we are, the truth of our weakness and of our frailty. It denies the reality of sin and so cannot deal with the darkness that so often surrounds us.


When we are not afraid to acknowledge our weakness, when we no longer refuse to accept need of others, we are more open to the presence of God because we do not seek control and power over ourselves and our world, we seek the joy and hope of a love that does not abandon us or forsake us. We can deal with the confusion of life because we see the touches of a love that is present even in the confusion of a world we do not always understand.

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