Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A Reflection

God turns everything to our good. It’s not possible to go through life without some painful things happening to us. Some we have no control over (e.g. pandemic). Some of these things we bring on ourselves (e.g. alcoholism). Others are things we suffer at the hands of others (e.g. betrayal). And others are things that happen through nobody’s fault (e.g. an accident).

Wherever these things come from, they may bring us to a stage where we think that there is no redemption. That nothing can be salvaged. That everything has gone down the river and is irretrievably lost. As a result we fall a prey to feelings of hopelessness and self-pity. We begin to doubt ourselves, to doubt life, and even to doubt God.

Well, for anyone who ever felt like that, St Paul has a message. He tells us (Second Reading) that God has a saving plan, a purpose, which everything serves. He can turn everything to the benefit of those who trust in him. He can bring good out of our pain, even out of our sins. This is not to say that God wills bad things to happen to us. No. But when bad things do happen to us, God helps us, not only to pick up the pieces, but to reap a harvest from the wreckage.

There is a story about a king who owned a very valuable diamond. One day an accident happened and the diamond got deeply scratched. The king consulted experts to see if anything could be done to save the diamond. But they told him that even if they were to polish it, they would never be able to repair the wound it had suffered.

So the king locked the diamond in his vault where it lay hidden and useless for years. Then one day a very famous diamond cutter arrived in the capital. At the king’s invitation he undertook to examine the diamond to see if anything could be done with it. After examining it carefully he said, “Your Majesty, I will make the diamond look even more beautiful than it was before the accident.” On hearing this the other diamond cutters laughed. But the king was delighted, and gave him permission to work on the diamond.

Bringing all his artistry to bear on it, he proceeded to engrave a beautiful rose on the diamond, using the deep scratch as the stem of the rose. When the king and the diamond cutters saw what he had done they were filled with admiration. It wasn’t just a clever cover-up. He took the diamond’s fault and transformed it into something beautiful.

In the same way, God can help us to transform our worst fault into a virtue, our worst misfortune into our greatest blessing. Our troubles are ultimately for our good, and can be an atonement for our sins. However, in our pride or foolishness, or just in our sense of hurt, we may throwaway the thing that can bring us closer to God and help us to grow.

From painful experiences and difficult times we learn that God is faithful to us and can bring good out of anything. If we trust him, and have patience, we will see with our own eyes the truth of what Scripture says: “God makes all things work together for the good of those who love him.”

And if the difficult times should return, we will remember what we have learned, what God has already done for us, and we will not lose heart. God sees us more clearly and knows us better than anyone else. He sees our wounds and sorrows, the scars we carry in our hearts. He will be good to us in the end, both in this world and in the next.

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