“One may ask, why does sickness, hunger, hatred, persecution, and all sorts of suffering and death persist despite God’s promise of salvation?”
In the fourth Sunday of Advent, the last purple candle, which represents peace, is lit. Peace has always proven to be an elusive commodity since time immemorial. Almost unconsciously but willfully, we are inclined to sin and continue the uprising that the first man and woman had started. Like them, we have the impulse to be like god ourselves, trying to usurp the power of God himself. This is why the Israelites, despite the many wonders that God has done for them in the wilderness, chose to worship a false idol in the form of a golden calf. As a result, many are slain by God’s burning wrath and only those who refuse to worship the idol are allowed to enter the Promised Land.
To this day, we continue to replicate and reenact the ways of the stiff-necked Israelites by pretending to be gods ourselves. We want to be autonomous from Him, acting in a way contrary to His will. The consequence is sin and with it the lack of inner peace. The sinner is plagued with inner turmoil, and is tormented by pangs of conscience. He is constantly in a state of emotional, psychological and spiritual chaos which deprives him of an enduring contentment and serenity.
But our sin is but a drop in the ocean of God’s mercy and love. God in his goodness promised us a redeemer; one who will free us from the shackles of our mutinous selves. He promised a Messiah, a Redeemer, to bridge the gap between God and man first caused by Adam and Eve. The one who is to come is Christ, the prince of peace and the embodiment of God’s love and mercy. With His coming, victory over Satan and his legions is achieved.
One can only wonder, man and the earth he inhabits is but a tiny speck in the whole universe, so nothing in the grand scheme of God’s creation, yet to God man is everything so much so that He sent His only begotten Son to suffer the ignominy of the cross and redeem us from certain death. It is truly a mystery that God, being all powerful, could only have willed it to save us from death and crush Satan to liberate us from his snares. Yet, God chose to live amongst us, and be like us except sin, ultimately offering himself as a sacrificial lamb in order to redeem us. If that is not the fullest expression of infinitesimal love and mercy what is?
One may ask, why does sickness, hunger, hatred, persecution, and all sorts of suffering and death persist despite God’s promise of salvation? Why the pandemic? Why another deadly typhoon and just before Christmas? Is God merely giving us false hope when he promised salvation? Christ does not promise us a utopian existence and a life without troubles. On the contrary, following him can be very difficult. Christ’s discipleship requires taking up one’s cross.
‘The gospel of Matthew says “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” God brings salvation and with it peace only to those who follow him and willingly heed his invitation to be his disciple. God is patient, not wanting any of us to perish. All are welcome to walk with Jesus. For narrow is the gate.
Yet God’s promise of salvation does not deprive us of free will and the freedom to choose. One can always opt to follow or part ways with God. This is why discipleship requires humility, lifelong commitment and a sincere desire never to give in to our baser instincts or fall prey to the snares of the enemy. For man this may be impossible but for God, through the help of the Holy Spirit, everything is possible.
After all is said and done, life’s worries and troubles will not vanish magically as we are seeing now with Typhoon Odette devastating the Visayas and Mindanao. But Christ’s coming into the world has given us a way to peace and salvation despite these troubles. Yes, peace can exist in spite of all ferment and disorder. The requirement is if we are willing to allow Christ to reign in our hearts and let His spirit abide in us. As St. Teresa of Avila said – “Let nothing trouble you, nothing frighten you. All things are passing; God never changes…Whoever possesses God lacks nothing: God alone suffices.” Surely, with Christ in us, no amount of virus, or bickering, or material want can trouble us nor perturb our serenity. Christ brings peace to the troubled and joy to the suffering. This is the significance of Christ’s coming; the very essence of Christmas which we now celebrate.
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