Is being “blessed” an indication of God’s love? Does that mean people who suffer are loved less?
It’s easier to understand suffering when it’s something we’ve done to ourselves: we put off studying and end up stressing over an exam or speed on the highway and get pulled over. But what about when it really isn’t our fault? A flood ruins your home, or a freak accident leaves a loved one injured or deceased – how are we to deal with these tragedies? Jesus actually address this question Himself in the Gospel of Matthew. Check out how in this clip from EWTN’s Fr. Spitzer’s Universe.
The Eye of the Needle
In order to answer this question Fr. Spitzer brings up Matthew 19:24, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” A “rich man” was considered to be more than just someone with money. It described anyone who had talent, beauty, opportunity, power, influence, honor, skill, etc.
In this period of time, wealth was thought to be God’s blessing. They believed that a man who was blessed in this life would also be blessed in the next. This is partly why lepers and those with diseases were cast out of society – they were considered condemned by God. In this passage, Jesus tells them that this is not true. He says that those who are rich (i.e. talented, honored, skilled, influential) will have a more difficult time getting into heaven – it is those who suffer who are more likely to be welcomed through the gates.
God vs. Materialism
The logic of materialism tells us that whoever has less material suffering is a happier person. To put it another way, the “rich” person (who has more possessions, wealth, opportunity, influence, etc.) must be a happier person. But this just isn’t true. Happiness is not defined by how long your life is or how many things you have, but it is defined by how you love others, and how you love God.
It’s not the suffering itself, but how we deal with it that changes our lives.