April 12, 2020: The Resurrection of Our Lord - Pastor’s Corner
In these days of pandemic, I’ve found myself drawn to the Biblical story of Job in order to make sense of the suffering of our situation. The story begins with a cosmic conversation between God and Satan. In the course of their discussion, God expresses his delight with Job, a man of incredible faith, family, and prayer. Satan responds that Job is an upright man only because he has been richly blessed by God. Satan taunts God saying that, if God would remove His blessings, Job would eventually despair and curse God. Faced with this challenge, God agrees to allow Satan to diabolically distress Job.
Satan proceeds to strip Job of every security of finance, family, and friendship. Through the majority of his sufferings, Job continues to bless God. But as Job’s sufferings increase, Satan plagues him with an illness which brings him to the brink of death. At this moment, Job cries out to God, questioning how God could allow such suffering. God responds to Job by inviting him to consider his sufferings from a divine perspective. With powerful poetry and detailed description, God reminds Job that He is the creator of the universe. He is the author of life and death. Most importantly, God alone brings life from death, victory from defeat, blessing from suffering. Enlightened by this wisdom, Job repents of despair and finds himself renewed in his faith.
As we celebrate Easter, I find myself bedeviled by Job’s questioning of God’s presence. Suffering is all around us. Our churches are closed for public worship. The sacraments are not widely available. Our Easter Vigil will not welcome the more than forty RCIA members who have journeyed for more than eight months to this moment. There are those who are afflicted with the coronavirus, those who are isolated, those who are in the grip of fear. Many are facing unemployment and an uncertain future. Others are weary from the listlessness of daily monotony. Some are discovering that living with family in the close quarters of a San Francisco apartment is anything but heaven! And, like Job, I ask: “Where are you Lord?”
As I read God’s response to Job, the Lord spoke to my heart:
- I am with you as you celebrate the communal Mass with your Dominican brothers.
- I sing through the community as you chant the daily Psalms.
- I have raised up those who have helped keep our Lima Center open and serving those in need.
- I have inspired others to create and support the technology to livestream worship.
- I am there when you connect via internet to pray the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross.
- I will support the community through those who are able to continue to tithe and be generous in their weekly offerings.
- I am the volunteer who offered to sanitize the Church pews before the Church opens for private prayer.
- You are not alone.
- Be at Peace.
- I am with you.
In the midst of his sufferings, Job says something remarkable. Although he is racked with pain, fear, and loss, he is inspired to say:
I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust;
Whom I myself shall see:
my own eyes, not another’s, shall behold him. (Job 19:25-27)
This expression of faith in God as a Redeemer is the reason why Job survives. He doesn’t believe in God because he is blessed. He is blessed because he believes.
My prayer for all of you is that, even in the midst of your fears, anxieties, and sufferings, you live your faith fully. Nothing can separate us from the love of the Resurrected Christ. Take the time to pray and let the Lord speak words of tender presence to you. Let the fifty days of the Easter season renew you in the faith of Our Risen Redeemer. The pandemic has changed—but not cancelled—our liturgies. I invite you to participate through our YouTube live stream. United in faith at a distance, our lives will proudly proclaim that Our Redeemer lives!