Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction

Yesterday I was reading the bible and started the second letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. The following few verses really struck me, so I decided to try and recapture the moment and share it:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.
Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. (2 Cor 1:3-7)

The last few months have been a bit of a rollercoaster. With essays running into exams at the end of the college year and then after a short break a summer course it seems that the summer just evaporated, and this not because of the good weather in Ireland...

Last week I was home with my family and it gave me a bit of time to think about it all and to try and get a bit of a breather. Some of my reflections I put into my post at the end of last week, mainly concerning the sense of "something missing" when God seems absent in life. It makes me restless once more as I reflect on the richness of life once we realize that God exists, and not only that, but the depth of meaning we discover when we start to know Him.

It hurts so much to think that so many people, believers and non-believers, who do not realise the gift that is given them, the depths of intimacy that God in His endless mercies has bestowed on us. Even though the last weeks have been tiring and that this has had its effect on my prayers, especially from the point of view that prayer seemed empty and worthless, there seems to be a sense to be settled and a being centered on God from which I can draw strength at all times.

In the passage above it is this that struck with I think. The Father of all mercies, who comforts us in all our affliction, who is always present to us, especially in our time of need. That if we share in discomforts, we though Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

Is this Christianity lived out? So it seems to me. The promise of Jesus was never that life would become easier; "take up his cross and follow me" (Mar 8:34 RSV) hardly suggest that! Instead it is an invitation into unity, an invitation into life and an invitation into pure love. "I am with you always" (Mat 28:20 RSV), that is the promise, this gives this faith, hope and love which our Holy Father has stresses so much. Living a Christian life makes life maybe not easier in the worldly sense, but it makes it more meaningful. It adds a dimension to life which we, or at least I, did not dare to dream off before, it brings fullness to life.

Difficulties are part of it but God "comforts us in all our affliction", something we start noticing once we have build up our relation with Him...

And finally, "so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction". Once we have God close to us we are automatically a comfort to others, whether we know it or not. There seems to be something other people sometimes sense, even though they do not know what it is. During the summer there was somebody who told me after learning I was a religious, as he didn't know it in the weeks before the conversation, that he noticed something of a peace or a rest about me and that now he knew where it came from. It was nothing I was aware of, and actually I felt quite the opposite, but I think it shows that God can in this way work though us...

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