Anyone who lives long enough questions. Why do the wicked prosper? Why do the young die? Why does potential wither while evil thrives?
Why do high hopes sometimes smash against rocky reality? Recently, floods in California had a devastating impact on farmworkers. When the levee near Pajaro broke, they were awakened in the middle of the night and told to evacuate immediately.
Subsequent research showed that a more affluent county north of the dam had invested far more money in maintenance than the one south of it, which flooded. Meanwhile, those who picked strawberries as their primary income were afraid to go to shelters because they worried their immigration status might be questioned. In the week after, they wanted desperately to return to their homes, but the community had no potable water, sewage or electricity. If the crop was destroyed, as many feared, they’d lost their jobs and source of income. They must’ve asked, “why?”
The genius of today’s gospel is that Jesus doesn’t try to answer such unanswerable questions. He enters into them. He’d be right there with the farmworkers, bewildered, vulnerable and defenseless. After his arrest, he can’t act as he has before. He’s rendered passive—and from that stance, saves humanity.
Seeing his hopes unravel and his plans destroyed, Jesus plans a last meal. His concern in his final hours isn’t with imminent, brutal suffering but with a last, poignant gesture of friendship. He reaches out to them–and to us–with the nurture of bread, the spirit of wine and the praise of song. During his whole ordeal, there is no word of recrimination, though it would be understandable. He responds to crushing betrayal by pouring out love.
To the logical, it makes no sense. But to the believer, the powerless triumph. Those who seem defeated ultimately win. The questions aren’t answered, but One goes before us who lives through them, endures.
God’s ways are never our ways, we cannot even begin to understand what God does and why. When one has a relationship with God then in the context of that relationship we trust and have faith. God is a teacher and not a dispenser of favors. Often God teaches us by doing things that hurt us. But, not so with God, we learn when we are challenged. Even His only Son was challenged and did not understand the ways of God. Our Blessed Mother gets it correctly, don’t look for an answer, just keep what you don’t understand in your heart, one day they will make sense.