The world is becoming a complicated and dangerous place. ISIS is effectively carrying out a religious cleansing of Christians from the territories that it occupies, Russia is encroaching into Eastern Europe, North Korea makes more threats against the Western world, and the fear of the onset of an Ebola epidemic haunts us. It is as if for all the work that we have done in the name of progressivism, we still experience the same threats and chaos of decades past.
One has to ask again where is God? Where is His love for His own people? Does He or His love even exist to begin with? Probably the most honest cry of the atheist is their complaint over the evils of the world.
On an intellectual yet personal level, I reply God’s presence and love begins with you. The first indication of God and His Goodness is the notion that there is an absolute good in the first place. Without an objective notion of good, we have no right to categorize ISIS, or North Korea in the “bad” camp. God exists simply because Good exists. We can from there go on to discuss evil as simply a lack of goodness, that bad things proceed from the impaired exercise of our free wills, etc. I acknowledge that it is quite a leap from this theory to seeing the grotesqueness and monstrosity of true evils in the world, even those wrought by diseases, drought and famine that do not directly originate from man’s recent decisions.
In one’s walk with God, one comes to realize the storyline that plays out in the face of any evil. God does not intervene immediately but works across the development like a good plotline. Nobody fills movie seats (for more than one weekend anyway) with films where a deity swoops down and intervenes on behalf of the good guys. There’s suffering and struggle before the triumph. The evil conditions in the world are also conditions for saint-making. Like the recently canonized Korean Martyrs, I have hope that we will be hearing about the sanctity of the Iraqi martyrs in the centuries to come, whose struggles are not in vain but for God’s greater glory, although it’s hard to grasp at this moment. I pray that we will be able to contain Ebola with the love and compassion that Blessed Theresa of Calcutta showed those afflicted with leprosy.
This Sunday celebrates that ultimate triumph of good over evil. Ultimately, God intervenes and provides the appropriate response to suffering and death – through His own presence and experience of it – building one of the greatest storylines ever. In the responsorial psalm we say “Do not forget the works of the Lord” – for He is there working in the world to develop the right response to this very problem. The Exaltation of the Cross is the solution to the Problem of Evil.