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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Thursday in the octave of Easter

Father Kevin MacDonald, C.Ss.R.

Perhaps the most common question that is asked of God is “Why?” I remember attending a 50th-anniversary Mass for one of our celebrated Redemptorist priests, Father John Duffy. Father Duffy was an artist, a philosopher, and a poet. In fact, his books of poetry are compared to Robert Frost, only better. Father Duffy was reflecting on how God chose him for the priesthood. He told us that he questioned God’s judgment because his brother was much more talented and better qualified for the priesthood. But God said, no, I want you.

There are no easy answers to the question of God’s choosing someone and not another. It happened in the reading today. Peter and John saw something in the man asking them for alms. They saw that he was physically challenged, but they saw more. They saw that he had faith. He did not know Jesus, as yet. The man was only responding to the faith of John and Peter. He saw that they had more to give him than silver or gold. His insight was rewarded when he regained the use of his limbs and clung to Peter and John with all the visitors to the Temple looking on.

There is evidence of a hierarchy of truths in the healing of the man today. The first basic need he was asking from Peter and John was money. He needed to buy food. He needed to keep warm that night, perhaps have a roof over his head, if he was lucky. He needed money to survive. Peter and John did not satisfy this need, but they gave him something more. They restored him to health and wholeness. He clung to them, the Acts of the Apostles says, after the healing. He was overjoyed, overcome with gratitude. Then Peter and John revealed the highest truth of all: Jesus Christ. They told him that everything could begin anew. He did not have to be burdened by his past. He could accept Jesus Christ and receive the gift of life that lasts for all eternity.

The healing of the man who was physically challenged easily leads us to the question of suffering. Why is one person healed and someone else is not? Why do some people live with cancer or other deadly diseases and there are others who enjoy full health for the whole of their days? There is no satisfying answer to this question. One can read every theology book in the world and still be left wondering about the question of suffering. “Sometimes,” as the poet Rainer Maria Rilke said, “we need to stay with the questions.” And if we live with the questions, stay with them, mull them over in our minds, perhaps slowly, over time, we will gradually live into the answers.

When Jesus saved the woman caught in adultery, he told her to sin no more. When we live in union with God or at least are moving in that direction, we move into a new way of living that is more precious than any physical healing. The man who was paralyzed would still grow old and eventually die. A physical healing is temporary. Converting our lives to God is eternal.

Easter blessings,
Father Kevin MacDonald, C.Ss.R.