God Meant it for Good: Weekly Message for 03-14-2023

Dear Friends,

In everything God works for good with those who love him (Romans 8:28)

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers, the Dark Lord Sauron and the turncoat wizard Saruman conspire to retrieve the ring of power and enslave the world. To that end, Saruman kidnaps two hobbits, Merry and Pippin, hoping that they either have the ring or can lead him to it. But they escape, and in their flight meet Treebeard, a sort of shepherd of the forest Fangorn. 

The hobbits’ tale of Saruman’s cruelty reminds Treebeard of other grievances against the renegade wizard, and he rouses the trees to destroy Saruman’s stronghold. As the good wizard Gandalf subsequently surveys the wreckage of Saruman’s kingdom, he muses: “Between them, Saruman and Sauron have contrived only to bring Merry and Pippin with marvelous speed, and in the nick of time, to Fangorn, where otherwise they would never have come at all!… Their coming was like the falling of small stones that starts an avalanche in the mountains.” 

In his imaginative manner, Tolkien recalls a theme spanning Sacred Scripture: “All things serve the Lord” (Psalm 119:91). We might recall Joseph of Egypt, whose brothers plotted to murder him and then, in a fit of generosity, changed their minds and decided to sell him into slavery. Years later they find themselves at Joseph’s mercy and conclude, not unreasonably, that he will pay them back for all the evil they did to him. But Joseph affirms: “It was not you who sent me here, but God… you meant evil against me, but God means it for good” (Genesis 45:5-8, Genesis 50:20). 

Nothing, in other words, falls outside God’s loving providence. Nothing outstrips his salvation. Holy Week draws near, in which God reveals his power to bring the greatest good out of the greatest evil ever committed or imagined. The suffering and death of God is, in itself, meant for evil; but God means it for good. And that cosmic truth is also a deeply personal truth. Our own history is caught up in salvation history.

Others have meant evil against us; we have meant evil against others; but Saruman and Sauron—whether within us or without—need not have the final word.  

God bless,

Fr. John Pietropaoli

What did you think?

Share your review! Just log in or create your free account.


Leave a Reply

Want more?

Sign up for the weekly email and access to member-only content

Skip to content