MEMORIAL OF ST VINCENT DE PAUL
Job 3: 1 – 3, 11 – 17, 20 -23; Ps 88; Luke 9: 51 – 56
The readings for today’s Mass and the psalm as well present the reality of suffering. Job’s very painful lament is filled with questions that seem to have no answer – he sees himself as someone God has hemmed in. Psalm 88 repeats the darkness of Job. Having experienced all-encompassing pain and suffering, the psalmist’s words addressed to God are filled with sorrow: “You have plunged me into the bottom of the pit, into the dark abyss.” The conclusion of this psalm – not part of today’s responsory – is: “My one companion is darkness.”
Jesus, on the way to Jerusalem, to His destiny, is refused reception in a Samaritan village. Whatever Jesus felt at this, we are not told – surely, in His humanity He experienced rejection; “they would not welcome Him.” The cross arises in everyone’s life in one way or another, with different degrees of pain. In this life there are no exemptions.
Some years ago we had a retreat given by Fr. Nivard Kinsella of Roscrea Abbey in Ireland. In one of his conferences he spoke of the cross that comes in life; he said that one can try to run around it or attempt to jump over it but neither works – the only way is through the cross that one comes to life, always by God’s grace and our cooperation.
He had written a book “Unprofitable Servants” – we have it in our library. One chapter is headed “The Providence of Failure”. I asked him how he came to write the book and especially that chapter. Due to some misunderstanding he suffered in his community, a large cross arose in his life. What he experienced for some years and the result of having worked his way, by grace, through that cross came the book and especially the chapter.
“The Providence of Failure” – his words are unique, compelling – not the curse of failure or suffering or rejection or whatever – rather “The Providence of Failure” – he knew and experienced God’s mercy and grace through darkness. It speaks of a tremendous truth – pain, suffering, evil are not the last word – although it may seem that way. His experience is a witness of this as is the witness of countless others.
Our belief in the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is a firm conviction that in time good is victorious over anything. The Providence of God is always at work.