Throughout the season of Lent, we’re featuring the Millennial Lenten Reflection Series co-sponsored by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Franciscan Mission Service. Each small reflection will be written by a young person, focusing on that day’s Mass reading. You can sign up for the series here.
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers and sisters only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Why do bad things happen to good people? This question is repeated time and time again in our culture. What we often fail to see in these moments is that “bad things” are not always bad from every perspective and that these types of things happen to all people. In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that God “makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and unjust.” Because we are human, we face certain limitations when we try to understand God’s plan, when we try to comprehend why these seemingly bad things happen to good people. When we allow God to work through us and we have faith, we move beyond these limitations. Giving up control to God makes it easier to be less controlling in our own lives. We have less of an urge to demand answers, and we become at peace with the notion that we will never know God’s entire plan.
Jesus asks us to put our trust in God without knowing the full picture. He asks us to be as perfect as God, which may seem like a daunting task, though he realizes that we will inevitably fall short. Although humans are all imperfect, God loves us still. As God continues to show us love despite our imperfections, we should strive to mirror God’s perfect love for others this Lenten season.
Jes Stevens is a Loretto Volunteer working for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good in Washington D.C.