Fr. Francis Scaria
When Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den, there was hardly any possibility of hope. He was thrown in the midst of seven hungry lions. These lions were fed everyday with two human bodies and two sheep. Now the regular ration was stalled so that the lions may devour Daniel. The Almighty immediately pressed his battalion of angels into an emergency rescue operation. They closed the mouths of the lions. Although Daniel was left there for six full days, lions showed no interest in such a prey. Meanwhile prophet Habakkuk had prepared a stew and bread in Judea for the reapers working in his field. An angel of the Lord intercepted prophet Habakkuk who was going into the field with the food packets. The angel asked the prophet to take the food instead to Babylon to feed Daniel in the lion’s den. When the prophet confessed that he had never seen Babylon and had no idea of the lion’s den, without wasting time the angel asked the prophet to fasten the seat belt and get ready for the take off. “Then the angel of the Lord took him by the crown of his head and carried him by his hair; with the speed of the wind he set him down in Babylon, right over the den” (Dan 14:36). When Daniel saw the food packet lovingly sent by the Almighty as the hungry lions looked on, Daniel exclaimed, “You have remembered me, O God, and have not forsaken those who love you” (Dan 14:38). “The young lions suffer want and hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing” (Ps 34:10)
The Psalmist proclaims: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps 46:1). Think of Hagar finding herself before her dying son expressing her helplessness in her words, “Do not let me look on the death of the child” (Gen 21:16). The Scripture then notes, “as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept” (Gen 21:16). The Hope of the hopeless did not hide his face any more. God brought cool water to the boy in that desert.
Had there been any ray of hope left for Joseph stripped of his robe and thrown into the empty pit by his elder brothers? Genesis chapter 39 unmistakeably repeats the phrase “the Lord was with Joseph” over and over again (Gen 39:2, 3, 21, 23). The Lord was with him in the empty pit, in the Egyptian jail and everywhere.
When the Israelites groaned under slavery in Egypt, God intervened in their lives (cf. Ex 2) by sending Moses to save them and lead them to the promised land.
In the most difficult times during the life of Prophet Elijah, God ordered ravens to bring him bread and meat (cf 1 Kgs 17:1-6) to feed him. He thus comforted him.
The hopelessness of the situation at the time of Queen Esther could not be better expressed than in the words: “And all Israel cried out mightily, for their death was before their eyes” (Est 13:18). God was not too late to rescue them with the instrumentality of Esther.
Daniel 13 describes the pathetic situation in which Susanna found herself and how God intervened through Daniel when she was being led off to execution.
Jesus felt for Martha and Mary who lost their loving brother. Jesus shared their grief. On the fourth day after the death of Lazarus, He reached Bethany. He just wanted to be there. Wherever his disciples are on the Cross, He is there with them. That is the place chosen by the one who had no place on earth to lay his head. It is the ladder connecting heaven and earth. When we face sufferings, we are on the flight to heaven. In times of sufferings, the letter to the Hebrews has a piece of advice : “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:1-2). The Scripture says, “when Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved” (Jn 11:33). Tears rolled down His cheeks. Was he helpless? Not at all! Yet he meets us where we can be found. He weeps with those who are weeping. It had been already four days since Lazarus was dead and there was stench. Yet no situation is too bad for the Almighty to intervene. “See, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear” (Is 59:1). He asks, “Is my hand shortened, that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver?” (Is 50:2) The Word that created the universe roared, “Lazarus, come out!” (Jn 11:43) The Word that gives life brought the stinking rotten man back to life.
The climax of human experience of hopeless is echoed in the words of Jesus on the cross when he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46). Yet the Resurrection is an all surpassing event. It was an explosion of peace and joy for people in most hopeless situations. The Risen Lord loudly proclaims that God is most actively present when he is perceived to be totally absent. How true is the Word : “For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit”(Ps 16:10).
MUSINGS : 1-25,