Monday, April 28, 2014

When that 'corner' seems to be getting further and further away

In common-day parlance, there is a phrase that describes when things or situations become better and the pain and sufferings of the infirm improve, giving the one suffering great promise of better days ahead.  It is called ‘turning the corner’.  I am sure that all who suffer in small and great ways always hope that they see this ‘corner’ in their journey, especially when the journey had been a long and arduous one.  When it comes, it is like seeing that bright and warm spring day after a particularly long and harsh winter.  The sun shines brighter, and the flowers are seen bursting into beautiful blossoms.

But what if one doesn’t move from a ‘winter’ to a ‘spring’ moment?  What if the ‘winter’ unexpectedly becomes extended?  What if the sufferings and pains that one had been enduring and coping with are somehow augmented and a new suffering has been added on, seemingly without warning and certainly without a clear reason?  When this happens, it can really be a testing time of one’s faith and hope for that turn of the corner to come.  The tunnel that one is seems to be going on with no particular end in sight. 

In our Catholic faith, we believe that this life is not the ‘be all and end all’ of everything we have and everything that we are.  We have a ‘sure and certain’ hope that because we have died with Christ, we will definitely rise with him.  How one rises definitively in the eyes of the Church is not so much when one is free from earthly sufferings and when there are no more need for those ‘corners’ in our lives to anticipate.  Just yesterday, the world witnessed the remarkable and unprecedented canonization of two Popes – John XXIII and John Paul II.  What their being given the title ‘Saint’ in front of their name means that they have reached their greatest aim in life – an aim which we the baptized all have, which is to be in heaven for eternity and to join in the Communion of Saints.

It is when we forget this as our most dignified aim in life that we can become too obsessed with things to become perfect and pain-free in this life, and when they do not, we become wavering in our faith in God. 

When we do not have as our ultimate goal in life to become saints (canonized or not), it can easily make things in this life seem to be far more important than they really are.  I am not downplaying the very real and hard sufferings that many of us experience in our lives.  But what is the essence of our faith is that we have a sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to look forward to. 

The million-dollar question that all sufferers ask is ‘why’, and most of the time there are no cogent and clear answers.  We often mistakenly think that the moment we hear a good reason for our extended suffering, that we will suddenly come to accept it with no further questions asked.  We want to know and we want to know now.  Oftentimes, we also want to know on our own terms. 

But if we take a leaf out of the Book of Genesis, we will also notice that wanting to ‘know’ everything was the primary problem of our first parents’ taking and stretching out that hand the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Tempting as it may be in our dark moments of trials and suffering, what marks out a person of courage and deep faith is when he or she simply lives with this affliction with the conviction that as the Lord is our Shepherd, there is nothing we shall want. 

The resurrected Lord gives us all great hope in our darkened moments of life.  In the account of the resurrection from the gospel proclamation at Mass yesterday, we see it emphasized twice that the doors of the room in which the fearful disciples huddled were locked.  Despite this, the resurrected Jesus makes his presence clear to them. 

What this must mean for us is that there are no doors that can prevent the Lord from making his presence clear in our lives.  The doors to that lead to our hearts and our minds may be closed and latched because of our incessant waiting for those ‘corners’ to come in our journey in the dark tunnel, but these prove no barrier to the Lord who is closer to us that we are to ourselves. 

The Paschal mystery is something that Jesus went through for our sake and sake of the world.  He did not go around the mystery.  Perhaps this is also the calling for those who suffer with no end in seeming sight.  It is something that we need to go through so that our own resurrections can be real and that we can be a testimony of faith for the world which awaits to see the risen Lord in our own lives. 


  1. Hmmm frLuke, your last paragraph reminds me of the apostle John on the island of patmos. This is one of the scenes in the movie Son of God that touches and sets me reflective. John was all alone on the island, living, surviving, .... that one day he will see our risen Lord. He did. And i continue staying faithful, hopeful ....

    And thank you father, for despite your arduous journey, your faithfulness is our strength, our hope and i pray that our dear Lord will protect His perfect plan for your life and let nothing interfere with it.


  2. May your faith bring you joy, may God show you His gentle hands, may you find healing, may all of us bear witness to God in you, Luke.

  3. Dear Fr Luke - I do not know the sufferings and pain that you are going through but this I do know, in your bodily weakness your mentality has strenghten and this is shown in this, your blog within your writings.

    May you find comfort in God's healing presence as you move through each and every day of your life, slowly but surely. ..


  4. With the dawn of Easter, the memories of Passiontide and Holy Week have become pale.
    However, your phrase "turning a corner" somehow recalled afresh Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday,........leading just as swiftly to the radical turn of events of Good Friday. In the eyes of the secular world, it would seem to be a turn for the ignominious ending in death for a "king-to-be". Yet for all of us, believers, we know that this was a "necessary evil"..............for it would culminate or climax in our salvation, and the salvation of the world.

    Similarly, though " extended"(as you said) - it may be that this new development is actually the "turning a corner" of one's spiritual growth or maturity. However difficult it may be,it is the time to 'stay with The Lord' - just as the lone disciple did at the foot of the cross.

    God bless you, Fr.


  5. Good morning Father. Praying for you. -meg c