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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What's Up With That?

R.S. asks regarding, "Outgoing with Tall Tales and Loveable Ways" (See Monday, September 17, 2007) - "What's up with that? Mr. Robbin de la Cruz gets his life straight with God and with humankind (pays his debts off, etc.) then dies. It makes me wonder about the saying "the good die young." When I was a kid I kinda didn't want to be too good. I might die young, I kinda thought.So is he better now than here on earth? Was passing on his reward? Just wondering. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Help me understand..."

C.D. recalls an appropriate and common cultural expression regarding Robbin, "I guess everyone deserves a second chance." But think about it, if it is only second chances we humans deserve, most of us are in a lot of trouble. Isn't Jesus' formula of 70 times seven times more realistic to greatly accommodate our constant failures? In other words we patiently and generously give the least, the lost and most challenged around us limitless turnaround time.


gufbal1981 said...

R.S., I have some thoughts on this that could possibly help. I too have asked the same question many times and so many various ways. I'm going to preface this by saying that whenever someone dies, we go thru a lot of stages before we accept it. Let me tell you a little bit about what I've seen, and then I'll try and give you a response about your thoughts to help you understand. Two years ago my Uncle died of Cancer. I saw him suffering for a whole year before he passed away. He was 56 when he died. So, I asked myself "why did God take him away from all of us so soon?" I had to go deep inside myself to think about everything. Here's how I view life now. It may not be the Catholic perspective, but here it goes. We are given life for a reason. Each of our lives are meant to touch someone in a specific way...whether it be one person or an infinate amount of people. When we've done our job, God calls us home. I see heaven as a place where you are with your loved ones and it's a big party type celebration. If you were sick, you're well now...etc. My Uncle served his purpose in life. He touched me and everyone he knew in a way that no one could imagine. He did his work on earth...God called him home. Robbin did his job on earth too and has been called home. His passing was his reward. Robbin can now look down on you and kind of be your guardian angel...just like my Uncle is mine now. I hope this helped.

A.R. said...

I agree with R.S., we are put here for a purpose in life. Robbin had fulfilled his purpose in the short time after he received Christ as his Lord & Savior. Keep your mind & heart in a thankful place. Giving thanks to God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants for you. When bad things happen they seem to contradict belief in the goodness & care of God. But we must remember that there is an enemy, the devil, who is out to steal our faith, our peace and our joy. We are commanded in scripture to resist him, staying strong in our faith. Even when we do not understand, and it seems like things are out of control and going downhill fast...we should force ourselves to stay in faith and be thankful. I'm not saying to thank God for bad things . Instead, I am saying we can thank God for what He is doing, and what He has already done for us in the sacrifice of Jesus, matter what has happened or may be happening. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1Thessalonians 5:18 NLT

JF said...

R.S. Forgive my sort of round about way of answering your questions: One of the more difficult concepts I have in creation is the idea of "Heavenly justice." I, too, struggle with the concept of what seems fair and right from an Earthly perspective.

It is very easy to see that some of those who are rich and powerful abuse the poor using the concept of "don't worry, you'll get yours when you die and go to heaven" to keep those who have nothing from rising up against them. (of course, rich isn’t necessarily bad, nor is poor necessarily good…)

The same goes for those who die young, or are born with mental or physical illness, or are simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.

How does a merciful God allow tragedy to happen in this world, especially to those that don't "deserve" it? There is a book by Harold Kushner called 'Why bad things happen to good people" that you might like. I haven't read it myself but I know it is very popular and would probably offer a lot of profound insight.

There are two thoughts I have that help me maintain my perspective. One is the idea of a purpose in life, the other is the thought of what eternity really means.

The other two bloggers did a good job addressing purpose. I might only add that it takes a great deal of faith to believe in purpose but it is worth it to do everything you can to deepen your faith and strengthen your relationship with God.

Which leads me to eternity. If we believe in God, as he is presented to us in the bible, we believe in miracles, we believe loving each other as we love ourselves and we believe in life after death. However, there is little in the bible to suggest there is any Earthly justice. Last weeks gospel, about the prodigal son certainly doesn’t seem fair. One son does every thing the right way, obeys all the rules, stays with dad while the other takes his inheritance and blows it on wine, women and song only to find himself trying to survive on pig slop. When he comes home because he is completely broken, the dad welcomes him with open arms and gives him more than he’s ever given the “good” son. Doesn’t seem fair, but this reveals more about the good son than the bad, in that he was being good for the sake of his own reward and therefore resented those who didn’t work as hard as he did. Our humanness doesn’t want us to work all our lives to do the right things to get into heaven only to see those who have gotten away with everything get in at the last second. I take from this that truly loving others, for the sake of others, means you don’t care when or how someone makes it to heaven, only that everyone does.

Why? Because of the eternal consequences. Compared to our paltry 80 years on Earth, eternity is a really, really, really long time. Nothing that happens to us, no matter how bad or good compares or will have a lasting impact in heaven. If I pinched your arm 35 years ago, would you remember it now? That must be how even the worst tragedy looks like from the time perspective in Heaven.

However, how we react to everything, no matter how bad or good does have a potential lasting impact. The way we react to the good and bad around us are all avenues through which we become aware of God. We come to understand that without the choice between good and evil, how can we really "choose" to be with God. Of all the choices we make, this is really the most important one we make, isn't it?

It isn’t what happened to Mr. de la Cruz that mattered so much. It is because it happened to him that he chose start living his life for others, and in living his life for others he became more open to the possibility of God and when his time came, he was in the right place to accept him.

Only through faith can we accept the complexity of God’s plan. Jesus died young, but plenty of good people haven’t. If our only goal is to get into heaven, we live for ourselves and, sometimes, even want to die young in order to be with God sooner. If our goal is to help others get into heaven, we become part of the overall purpose of God’s plan and our own destiny takes care of itself.

So my roundabout answer to your question, “What’s up with that?”: Who knows? There are so many questions that demand answers. Without knowing the fullness of God’s plan, it’s hard to make sense of a world where suffering is inherent and death is the great equalizer. Perhaps we don’t need answers as much as we need to find peace. So for me, it’s not the “when” that’s important, it’s the “how.” And loving and serving others is the most important how there is.


Anonymous said...

J.F. your writing is extremely powerful! Thank you especially for your commentary on the Prodigal Son. You said, "Doesn’t seem fair, but this reveals more about the good son than the bad, in that he was being good for the sake of his own reward and therefore resented those who didn’t work as hard as he did." J.F. you capture very well what many "good sons" believe about the poor “bad” homeless. These poverty-stricken women and men are resented by many elite because according to the Gospel, (the Good News) - more than likely the homeless will beat most of the rich and powerful into heaven. They have obtained brokenness and humility, the keys to seeing God the Father. Lord, may we all be so wealthy.

LS said...

Last week I was in a retreat and we spent a week discussing suffering. The conversations were extremely inspiring; everyone suffers it's a matter of degree and a matter of awareness to the suffering. No matter who we are we share suffering in common and it is something we share with Jesus. I've been reading the daily readings for mass a lot more and I am so struck by how much Jesus was one of us. Someone described Jesus on the cross as an embrace as if he wants to console you when you suffer because he's been there with you. This image is something I have to hang on to, it's the reason for my faith.

r.s. said...

I read all of your comments completely.

My computer is tear-stained now. Thanks all of you for helping me. Thankfulness to God, serving others and peace make sense to me.