By Patricia O’Connell
FITCHBURG – We look around and we see sickness and suffering.
But God does not want this for us, and he created us with a different purpose in mind, Father Dennis O’Brien explained last week, during the annual St. Anthony novena, held last week at St. Anthony of Padua Parish.
The small church was nearly filled as Father O’Brien gave a scriptural explanation for why he believes this is the case, during his talk on ”Finding Christ in the Sick.”
Father O’Brien said that in the beginning of the world, Adam and Eve lived in paradise.
“There is no sin in Genesis 1 and 2, there is no sickness in Genesis 1 and 2 and there is no death in Genesis 1 and 2,” he pointed out. “Sin and sickness and death is not God’s will for our lives.”
These “three evils” – sin, sickness and death – came about only after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, he said.
“I equate those three things with evil because they rob us of the very things God wants for us,” he noted.
Before the fall, “Adam and Eve were in the garden of paradise, and they were naked and they felt no shame,” Father O’Brien said, adding that they had a totally open and transparent relationship with God, until they sinned.
“Chapter 3 begins with the fall,” he noted, which, in turn, “ruptures their relationship of their transparency with God.”
“In the cool of the evening, at the best time of the day, God came to walk with them,” he said, explaining that, “He wants to walk with us in the garden of life.”
Father O’Brien described the relationship God once had with our first parents as, “totally transparent, God comes to that garden on that breezy time of day, already knowing that Adam and Eve had sinned.” But, he stressed, that did not prevent God from seeking them.
During times of trial, Father O’Brien said the question we should be asking is not, “Where is God?” but, rather, “Where are you?”
He said if we strive to have that relationship with our creator, it will get us through any difficulty we have to face.
Father O’Brien urged people who are grieving, after losing a loved one, to not listen to the oft-repeated line that this is “God’s will.”
“I can say very confidently that sin, suffering and death is never God’s will for us and the Gospel backs me up with that,” he said. “What kind of a loving God would ever deliberately desire that we be sick, suffer and die?”
He also noted that when Jesus was here on earth, much of his time was spent healing the sick and raising the dead.
“God sent his Son into the world to redeem us, to rescue us from sin, suffering and death,” he added. “The proof he does not want this is the Resurrection.”
Father O’Brien also cited New Testament passages that contradict the notion that sickness and suffering is what God has designed for us. In the Book of Revelation, Chapter 21, we are told that there will be no more suffering, crying out or pain.
He once again referred to how Jesus performed miracles specifically aimed at relieving our suffering, during his three years of public ministry. “God is now turning back the power of Satan, the evil one, who brought that sickness, suffering and death into the world.”
“In the garden of your life, God desires to walk with you,” Father O’Brien said. “He desires to walk with you. He has come to you so that you can have life and have it to the fullest.”