Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Suffering and the Patience of God

Pope Benedict XVI , in his first message to the world after being elected pope, writes:

"It is not power, but love that redeems us! This is God's sign: he himself is love. How often we wish that God would show himself stronger, that he would strike decisively, defeating evil and creating a better world. All ideologies of power justify themselves in exactly this way, they justify the destruction of whatever would stand in the way of progress and the liberation of humanity. We suffer on account of God's patience. And yet we need his patience. God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified him. The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man. " (Let God's Love Shine Forth: The Spiritual Vision of Pope Benedict XVI, ed. Robert Moynihan, p. 191)

Here we catch a glimpse into the mystery of why justice is delayed and why evil is allowed seemingly to triumph. God is not passive or powerless and judgment deferred is not judgment denied. We live in an eschatological moment between the Ascension and the Return of our Lord and during this moment the salvation of the world is being accomplished. It is a deeply profound thought that we need God's patience, even though we suffer on account of it. In this way we participate in the joyful redemption of the broken world that comes only through suffering and cross-bearing. If we but only knew it, our brief moment of suffering is but a short, dark tunnel though a mountain into a beautiful valley on the other side.

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