Human beings will never understand why suffering exists. But even in the midst of our pain, there is God.
We all know what it is to feel pain and loss. Whether from the loss of a loved one, a cancer diagnosis, or a natural disaster, everyone experiences suffering.
According to Robin Ryan, an associate professor of systematic theology at Catholic Theological Union and a Passionist priest, the presence of suffering is the one thing that most challenges our faith. “Suffering isn’t an elective course,” he says. “It’s not optional. Even if a person lives in a mansion and has a great job, suffering touches everybody and affects everybody’s faith.”
The biblical Sophia is more than metaphor; she is an expression of the presence of God.
At a retreat where I referred to Sophia several times in my first presentation, a man suddenly stood up and blurted out: “Just who is this Sophia? Stop assuming that everyone here knows who you are talking about!” His interruption startled me, and it reminded me that many do not know this jewel in scripture, that Sophia is hidden from many.
The first step to developing a relationship with Jesus is figuring out which Jesus you're looking for.
Have you ever wondered why a religious sister chose to join the Dominicans instead of the Poor Clares? Or why a priest entered a religious order instead of being ordained in his local diocese? Or why a man became a Franciscan brother?
Would you recognize the word of God? Not the words from the Bible, which are sufficiently formal and weighty to convey proper divine authority, not to mention familiar. But that voice calling in the desert. That small, still feeling in our heart. The God who is still speaking to us in our daily lives.
The woman who washes Jesus' feet with her hair shows us the true meaning of hospitality and love.
Do you know what it is like to be invisible? To hear your friends talking about you behind your back? To be unable to walk down the street without being catcalled or whistled at? To be poor, to be homeless, to be without healthcare? To be a foster child, or a migrant worker, or to have a disability or chronic illness? To be told by the rest of the world that you don’t count?
How many of us know what it is it be known not as who we are, but only by the labels that society gives us? Sometimes they are fairly innocuous: Nerd, Hipster, Republican, Democrat. Sometimes they aren’t.
Let the ancient words of Mary, Zechariah, or Simeon leave their mark on your heart.
One of the most valuable experiences from my boarding school days—and one that has remained with me—is the habit of formal prayer. I remember praying the Nunc Dimittis at night prayer in the quiet of my high school chapel: “Now you may dismiss your servant, Lord, according to your word, in peace.” Just saying the words instilled a sense of peace.