Monday, 9/11/2017 – The suffering of nations

As I write this, the state of Florida is drowning.

Houston is still trying to dry out.

Mexico is picking through the rubble of a major earthquake.

And I turn to today’s readings and get this? Jesus curing a guy with a withered hand?

Have you ever noticed how there are times when we are caught up in the news of the day, the passions of the moment and we look to our daily Mass readings for some solace and comfort – only to be a little disappointed?

Curing of some guy’s hand? While so many thousands of people are suffering?

Couldn’t we have opened our readings today to find the story of Noah and his Ark? That would have made much better sense. (And a better reflection, #amIright?)

Still, we try.

We look to God and his Word for answers and for inspiration in times of trouble. And there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, that is what he wants us to do.

I suppose the Scriptures – the stories of our history that have their origins in the spoken word of those who came before us – have a much broader lesson to impart on a daily basis.

After all, long before Harvey and Irma came on the scene, there was plenty of suffering around the world. South America, the Middle East, Africa – especially Africa – are filled with nations and people that suffer … and sometimes they make the news. Other times, well, not so much.

We can be forgiven for not noticing.

Today we are noticing Florida. We are still concerned about Texas and Mexico. There are wildfires in the western U.S., wars in places we’ve never been … It all depends on where you live, who you follow on Twitter and what media channels you are exposed to.

Suffice it to say, there is always some suffering going on in the world.

A ha!

Now, we’re getting somewhere.


The man in the Gospel was clearly suffering. He held out his hand, withered and in pain, seeking the Lord’s healing.

We hold out our hands – dripping wet in Florida, slimy and weary in Texas, bloodied and broken in Mexico …

We hold those hands out in hope that our Lord will provide healing and a sense of peace, hope, love and joy.

The Lord answers our prayer.

Not always directly, the way we expect.

He doesn’t send us a message that says, “Peace to you Florida, I am with you.”

Or, does he?

The Lord works in mysterious ways, so perhaps he does listen and care and send his message of peace and hope … not directly … but through the actions of others.

The weather forecasters who have burned the midnight oil to keep people informed and safe.

The media that have done the same – true heroes often placing themselves in danger to show us how bad it is getting, so that we might think twice before “riding out a storm” that might kill us.

The official rescue personnel – those from Texas, from Florida – and those from all over the nation who send more help to those who are in need.

The unofficial heroes – the guys who have their own boats and their own burning desire to help others.

The doctors and nurses who cannot – simply, can NOT – evacuate, when they know they will be needed as the last of the warm breezes from the hurricanes die out.

Anyone who runs TOWARD the danger because they feel a calling … a vocation to help.

They are doing God’s work.

They are joining with Jesus to cure the withered hands of their brothers and sisters who are suffering today – and will be suffering for many weeks to come.

So, think about today’s readings just a little bit more. See how Paul writes about his own suffering and what it meant to him … what it means to us.

Read the Psalm today … where does our soul find rest?

Read the Gospel again …

Jesus cures the withered hand.

Jesus is no longer with us in the flesh, but he is with us through those who dedicate their lives to being the hands, the feet, the arms … the heart of Jesus on Earth.

Are you part of that mystical body?

If not … isn’t it time to do something about that?

About the Author

Dan McFeely is a Carmel, Indiana, writer, communications business owner, book editor and a former professional journalist. Dan also works as an Adult Faith Formation Minister, currently serving as a spiritual director for the men's and women's Christ Renews His Parish program at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Carmel. He is a graduate of the Ecclesial Lay Ministry program offered by the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana and has studied theology at Marian University.

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  1. Hey Dan,

    Ask anyone who has suffered. When do you ever feel closer to God? When you need Him most, when you are suffering.

    Say what you will about the random tracks of hurricanes, if it bring you closer to God, how can it be bad?


  2. Thank you Dan for this reflection. We are praying for the people in Florida, Texas, Mexico and other suffering nations. May God grant us strength during these trying times.

  3. “That is the secret of the Psalms. Our identity is hidden in them. In them we find ourselves and God. In these fragments He has not only revealed Himself to us but ourselves in Him.” Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas. Those of us who waited out Harvey’s deluge thank God, our refuge, and pray and do what we can for our neighbors who suffered. Thank all for their prayers for Florida and for Texas.

  4. Well stated, Dan. Where there is catastrophe, we never need to looker further than those people who are there, helping. Some don’t believe they are doing His work, just ‘doing their job,’ or ‘getting the job done.’ But whether they believe it or not, Jesus is working through them. My prayers are with the victims of disaster and war.

  5. After having watched “The Shack” this past weekend, it helped reinforce how GOD can heal, bring reconciliation, hope, and peace to ALL who suffer.

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