Entering Into the Mystery of God

Well, this is the closest we get to someone asking Jesus the question so many in our time want the answer to: why do the innocent suffer? The disciples asked: were these people innocent? which amounts pretty much to our question. If I had been there my breath would have stopped, my hearing would have focused acutely and….I would have howled at the answer. Jesus, Jesus does not answer the question. At least not in the way I want, nor in the way most people, who agonize over this question, want. If ever there was a chance for a clear cut answer that would put paid to the questions about the goodness of God, this was it…except that Jesus didn’t take it!

Look what he did in this conversation. They asked about ‘them’. He said, ‘Look to yourselves. Use their suffering as an incentive to actively turn away from evil and pursue goodness in your lives.’ That certainly isn’t the answer I want but maybe it is the answer I need. When we agonise over the pain of the innocent, it is a short step to presuming that we are amongst them and that our pain is undeserved. Maybe it is, but then maybe it isn’t. If we are not truly examining our consciences and our actions, we could be doing wrong unthinkingly, and worrying over other people is one way to elude our own responsibilities.

That being said, we also need to look at what Jesus did at the end of his life. One thing the New Testament is clear about, Jesus was innocent. Tempted terribly, yes, but innocent. If anyone didn’t deserve to suffer it was him. Yet he did. Jesus’ answer to the suffering of the innocent was to share in that suffering. That is the answer he gives to our awful question but does it make any sense? Not until we follow in his footsteps and, in extending ourselves in loving care of our brothers and sisters, suffer in some innocent way that he did. The answer to our question lies not in our head but in our experience. It is not given to the mind but rather to the heart and when we have discovered it in some small way we will find we have entered into the mystery of God.

Adapted from Renew International