December 14, 2012

Prayer In the Face of Evil

Evil threatens humanity on both social and personal levels, and, against this threat, prayer in the face of grave evil takes on a particular importance.  It is in the face of grave evil that our faith in the Lord is most tested, especially when that grave evil involves innocent children.   It is nearly impossible to pray when heartless brutality robs of us of those we love and steals all sense of security from our communities.  How do we pray when the actions of the violent seem to eclipse all that is good, noble and true about humanity and our life together?

It is normal to be dismayed before irrational malice and it is also normal to want to find some kind of explanation when we are dismayed.  We want to understand and we want to do something, anything to prevent the pain violence causes in the future.   Some of the resolutions we make at such moments might even be very good.  Yet, the deeper cause of evil, whether physical or moral, does not admit of an explanation, at least not of one that is fully satisfactory, and the suffering evil causes cannot be addressed, at least not adequately, by anything that is under the command of our own cleverness or natural capacities for problem solving.

As we approach the mystery of Christmas, I have no words that could possibly comfort those who have suffered the unimaginable distress that has befallen so many families in so many different ways.   The only comfort that is real comfort cannot be contained in human words, but true comfort is entrusted to us by the God the Father.  He whose heart is broken over the evils of this world speaks His Word into our suffering and his Word cries out in our flesh, wrapped in swaddling clothes: this is God's living prayer to humanity.  Prayer in the face of evil is a living mystery where the tears of man mingle with the tears of God.