Joy in Suffering

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/05/27 at 12:00 AM

• By now I think most of you know that our parish suffered a terrible loss last Sunday morning with the unexpected passing of our seminarian, Michael Kitson.
• Michael went to Mass for the final time last Saturday evening, the vigil for the Feast of Divine Mercy. He served the Mass alongside our other seminarian, Michael Carlson, and afterwards we joked around, and I gave them a blessing as they were supposed to travel together back to the seminary last Sunday morning.
• I got a call from Michael’s mother about 20 minutes before the 8 a.m. Mass on Sunday telling me of Michael’s death, and I in turn called Bishop Jugis and Fr. Gober, our Director of Vocations, to inform them.
• For those of you who were able to come to Michael’s funeral on Wednesday morning, you know that we had a huge crowd, and that it was an absolutely hope-filled funeral. As much as such things are possible, it was even a joyful funeral.
• Perhaps it seems a bit strange to call a funeral “hope-filled” or “joyful” as funerals are generally sad and sober events…especially when the deceased is only 20 years old, as was the case with Michael.
• But while every death brings with it a measure of sadness because someone we love has passed, for a Christian sadness and suffering need not preclude hope or joy. Indeed, suffering and joy often exist together within the Christian soul.
• I say this because our Lord brought forth our greatest joy the world has ever known, viz., the resurrection of Jesus, from the greatest suffering the world has ever known, i.e., the crucifixion of Jesus.
• No matter what suffering this world may bring to us, if we have faith, God will always bring something good out of it. In the world of faith, evil never gets the final word!
• Many times the good borne of suffering is the growth in holiness for those of us who choose to suffer with eyes of faith turned confidently toward our Lord.
• But our broken human nature is often slow to believe that good can come from evil and suffering, is it not? We get a sense of this in our Gospel today, which is the story of our Lord’s appearance in the village of Emmaus.
• When the two disciples with whom Jesus was walking express their lack of belief in the accounts of His resurrection they had gotten from some women, Jesus says to them “Oh, how foolish you are!” And He spoke of the necessity of His suffering.
• The point, my brothers and sisters, is that we should never allow the sufferings of this world to damage our faith in God, or to rob us of the joy and peace that are proper to the practice of our Catholic faith.
• When we consider the terrible tragedy of Michael’s death at such a young age, in faith we should be wondering what great good God is going to derive from this suffering!
• While it’s true that we are sad and suffering because of Michael’s untimely death, we have to keep our eyes on God in times like this, trusting in Him all the more, confident that in His love and mercy our Lord will bring good out of this suffering.
• Perhaps our Lord will use Michael’s death as a means of drawing more young men to the priesthood – especially from our parish. Who knows?
• What we do know is that Michael’s unexpected death does not have to be the last word about Michael. If we have faith in God, our Lord will bring something very good out of this suffering for Michael’s family, for our parish, for his seminary, and for our diocese.
• Most importantly, when we suffer with faith in God, one of the great things that God does is to strengthen our faith so that it glorifies Him!
• St. Peter says this so well in his 1st Epistle. He says, “In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
• My brothers and sisters, now is a time of mourning and sadness for our parish family. A very promising young man has passed unexpectedly from our midst. His parents and our parish have lost a son, his sisters and our seminarians have lost a brother, and our diocese has lost one of its future priests.
• There is much to mourn.
• But just as surely as our Lord turned the great tragedy of Jesus’ crucifixion into the greatest
victory man has ever known – indeed a victory over sin and death! – let us trust that our Lord
will bring some great good out of our present suffering.
• May our Lord grant eternal rest unto Michael, consolation to Michael’s family and friends, and
an unwavering and hope-filled faith to us all.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

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