During the holidays, I’ve gone back to asking myself a question that I used to wonder about when I was an adolescent. While celebrating the festive season and enjoying the company of my family and friends, I also thought about all the turmoil that is prevalent in the world today.
The question is one that I’m sure that you have heard of before – Why do bad things happen to good people?
My problem is that the answers that I’ve received when I’ve asked this question in the past have been unsatisfactory. Thus, I have been searching for a good answer for a very long time.
When I was younger, my mother used to tell me that there were things that were incomprehensible to mankind. Thus, I had to rely on my faith and accept that God had a master plan for all of us. While I loved my mother immensely, her answer did not satisfy my curiosity.
I was not seeking a religious answer to my question, but one that was logical. I soon found out that the best answer that I could come up with was one that had elements of both.
On my way to solve this puzzle, I accepted several truths: 1) that we were all sinners; 2) that to redeem ourselves, we had to do penance; 3) that since we had the ability to choose, we would make some good and bad decisions; 4) and, most importantly, that we were not divine. Therefore, we could not enjoy everlasting happiness during our stay in this planet.
After dwelling on our flawed character, I concluded that God had a master plan to ensure that we had an equal share of the good and bad times.
Thus, someone might be a brilliant scholar, graduate with honors, and earn a top salary from a prestigious corporation. Nevertheless, this same individual may have an unhappy marriage, die young from a terminal disease, get a long jail sentence in a totalitarian country, or be in the Twin Towers when the two planes crashed into them on 9/11.
On the other hand, there are other individuals that while lacking the intellectual and scholastic achievements and the earning power of the first group, might have a happy, healthy, and long life with a wonderful marriage partner.
Some of us have the bad habit of analyzing the now, what’s in front of us. So, when we see someone having a terrific streak of good luck, we conclude that this is the way that it’s always been with this person. These individuals don’t realize that just a couple of years ago, when they themselves were at their peaks of good fortune, these other individuals led miserable lives. So, the tables have turned now. Now, it’s their turn to find happiness. They deserve it.
And is it fair to think, for those who are practicing Catholics, that the punishment that priests render during confessions would be limited to saying a couple of “Our Father’s” and “Hail Mary’s? Who is kidding who? It is more logical and fair to think that bad things happen to good people because of their need to atone for their bad deeds throughout their lives. The prayers are a way to place our fate in the hands of God, but they are not a free pass to escape our well-deserved punishment.
We need to be reminded of the words of Exodus 20:5-6, regarding the Lord “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations …” This means that in order to escape living under a curse of our ancestors, Christians have to live completely obedient lives, never disobeying the laws of the Lord.
In fact, it is not sufficient to ask for forgiveness for the sins of our ancestors to rid ourselves of their curse. It is mandatory to address the issues that brought about the Lord’s curse on them.
You can reason that the Lord brought a curse to the United States in the past for the sins of slavery by triggering a Civil War that resulted in approximately 620,000 casualties. It took the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution to erase this stain from the Nation’s soul.
Similarly, you can argue that the Communist Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro in 1959 was payback by the Lord for the betrayal in the early years of the Republic in 1902 for the lack of rewards offered to the bulk of the soldiers who fought in the War of Independence. Many of these war heroes (the manbises) wondered what had the War of Independence been all about? Cuba suffered many ills because corrupt politicians replaced these men of honor who liberated the homeland from Spanish rule.
And let’s not forget the number of babies that are killed in the United States by abortions. According to the latest statistics compiled by the American Life League, over 61.8 million abortions were performed in the United States between 1973 through 2018. And Beijing Biden brags about his Catholic faith, despite the fact that he embraces a pro-choice posture. While there are some valiant priests like Father William Kosko of Buckeye Arizona and Father Altman of La Crosse, Wisconsin who have given wonderful homilies stating that you can’t be a Catholic and be pro-choice and that you can’t be a Catholic and vote for a Democrat, the majority of priests and bishops stay silent on this issue because they don’t want to rock the boat! America will continue to suffer the wrath of God as long as Roe v. Wade is the law of the land.
But, in the end, the good and bad times are all cyclical. Everyone will go through winters of solitude, before attaining the rebirth of spring – until the cycle starts all over. Remember, one’s trajectory is cyclical until the end.
While my problem was that I wanted to be God and always enjoy the good times during my stay in the planet, I was able to come to grip with the fact that God’s plan was fair. After all, if we were all children of God and He was all good, then I could not see Him playing favorites.