One of the most common objections posed against the existence of God is the following: “If God is so good then why do innocent people have to suffer?”  The prime example would be what happened in Connecticut, in which a crazy young man barged into an Elementary school and opened fire killing 20 innocent children and adults beside and then he ended his own life.

Indeed suffering, especially of the innocent and those of little children (1st grade and Kindergarten) is a huge mystery.   The whole of the country and way beyond suffers this tragedy not to mention the excruciating pain and anguish of the parents have to endure the rest of their lives. Our prayers and Mass intentions go out to the parents and relatives of these children. May the God of peace console them!

The response to these pertinent questions is not easy; however, it deals intrinsically with a supreme and inviolable gift that God has given to each and every person that comes into this world: THE GIFT OF FREE WILL!

As in the beginning with Lucifer and 1/3 of the angels, they decided to turn their backs on God, abuse their gift of freedom, and through the intervention of St. Michael the Archangel and the faithful and obedient angels, they were expelled from heaven and cast into the fiery pit of hell where they will suffer the eternal loss of God and His glory for all eternity.

Likewise in the case of our first parents, Adam and Eve.  We all know the story all too well taken from the 3rd Chapter of the first book of the Bible, Genesis.  The first couple was given freedom to choose; they could either obey God or disobey God. Indeed freedom is very risky, but it is because God indeed wants to be loved freely. If we were created as robots then there would be neither freedom nor the possibility to love.

Tempted by the devil, disguised in the form of a serpent, Eve listened to the words of the seducer, the ancient serpent he who is a murderer and a liar from the beginning (Jn. 8, Jesus’ definition of the devil).  She listened to the devil, entered into dialogue with the devil, looked at the forbidden fruit, like what she saw, gave consent in her will, bit into the forbidden fruit and then shared it with her husband, Adam.  There we have it! ORIGINAL SIN!   We were all born with and freed from the stain of it in our baptism, but still experience the effects in the tendency we experience towards evil; St. Thomas Aquinas calls this concupiscence.

Therefore, any form of moral evil en the world (which we call sin) has nothing to do with the action of God. However, it does relate directly to God’s allowing us to use our freedom--- better said, God allows us to “abuse” our freedom!

Our hearts should always go out to all of these who suffer and to express great compassion, mercy, and weep with those who weep, remembering the words of Jesus in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who mourn they will be consoled. “ (Mt. 5:4)

At the same time, God should always be seen, depicted, and embraced as a loving father.  God is slow to anger and quick to forgive. Jesus presented God as a loving Father patiently waiting His wayward son to return. Upon returning, the Father showered the son with kisses, hugs, a new ring, sandals a new cloak, a party, a feast and joyful music. (Lk. 15:11-32).  The Psalmist reminds us of God with these words: “Taste and see the goodness of God.”

St. Augustine, one of the most profound thinkers in the world, reminds us of “Happy Fault”.  God allows evil because He can always bring greater good out of evil.  God endowed Adam and Eve with free-will, the freedom to choose between good and evil. As we have said, they “abused” their will rather than using it to give honor and glory to God.

O HAPPY FAULT.    God, in His infinite Goodness and Providence, brought much greater good out of the tragedy of Original Sin. In time God the Father sent His only Son Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary.  Jesus then taught us how to life by His life which is model and pattern for us to imitate. The culminating moment was the Paschal mystery. Jesus willingly suffered what appeared to be the tragedy of Calvary, wherein He allowed Himself to be brutally nailed to the cross for the salvation of the entire human race but for the salvation of each and every one of us individually. Then three days later, the Paschal mystery was brought to its consummation when Jesus gloriously rose from the dead.  “The Lord is truly risen from the dead and dies no longer, Alleluia!”

Therefore, the tragedy of the first sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, was far surpassed in Goodness by our loving Heavenly Father by sending us His only-begotten Son, Jesus to open up the gates of heaven and to give us access to heaven for all eternity.

Tragedies that occur can truly rock our boat to the point of capsizing and sinking.   We are all visited with mysteries, sufferings, and if not major tragedies at least minor tragedies.

The Key so that suffering does not make us” bitter” but “better” a person can be summarized in the episode when Jesus was walking on the water in the dark hours of the night and Peter, hearing His voice and obeying the Master’s invitation began to walk on the water. But the fragile Apostle started to sink. Why?  The reason is very simple!  Peter’s problem was that he focused more on the problem then on the person who could resolve his problem. The cold water, the piercing winds, the enormous waves—all of these captivated the attention of Peter more than the person of Jesus.  As soon as Peter lifted his gaze from that of the Master, he sunk in the water.

All of us can identify with the following. Problems we have had, problems we now have, and many problems await us tomorrow and all of the days of our lives. The key and the solution is not in focusing on the problem but on the problem-solver, Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

In this year of faith, may our prayer be, Lord I have little faith, but strengthen my faith.  Indeed true faith can move the highest mountains!