Benefit of the doubt: Weekly message for 03-05-2024

Dear Friends in Christ,

The emails that arrive in the Ask a Priest inbox reflect a wide range of hopes and fears, challenges and doubts that people have.

Some people are perplexed by a biblical passage or a Church teaching. Some struggle to deal with loved ones who are losing their health — or their faith.

One type of email is always jarring: the kind that attributes bad motives to Our Lord.

Specifically, some people sense something sinister in a God who created a world that he knew ahead of time would be full of suffering.

Certainly, the question of why an all-good, all-powerful God allows so much suffering has puzzled people for millennia.

One short answer — that God allows bad things to happen because he can bring something good out of it — has validity.

But that answer won’t always satisfy a person who is knee-deep in misery or doubt.

Yet, it’s that lack of an easy answer that can carve out a space for faith. When we come to the edge of a dark abyss and can’t see clearly to the other side, that is the time when we have the chance to give God the benefit of the doubt.

There are lots of good reasons for doing so, after all. He created us in his own image, sustains us at every moment and even sent his only Son to die for our redemption.

In a word, our gratitude toward God can help to fuel our faith in him.

A fitting target of our gratitude should be the great mercy the Almighty offers us. To ponder that gift more deeply in this season of Lent, you could spend time praying with our retreat guide “Father of Mercies:  A Retreat Guide on the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

It can help remind you of why Our Lord is a God you can trust.

In Christ,

Father Edward McIlmail, LC
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