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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
Exclusive Representation of the Nativity Scene.
When a father notices defects in the child he loves, he punishes him to make him lose his bad habits. If, on the other hand, the same father notices faults in a foreign child, he does not punish him, because that child does not belong to him. This is what God, our Father, also does. He too often tests those he loves, sending them suffering and setbacks to purify them of their imperfections. Thus is explained the word of the archangel Raphael to Tobias: “Because you were pleasing to God, you had to undergo the trial.”
St. Paul for his part says that the Lord chastises whom He loves. When a doctor sees that he can save his patient, he makes him take medicine and puts him on a diet. If, on the other hand, he sees that the disease is incurable, he allows the patient to eat what he wants. God does the same. If He sees that a sinner can still be saved, He sends him evils, which deliver him from any criminal attachment to the goods of this world, because the sufferings make all the joys of the earth and all sensual pleasures bitter. As for the hardened sinners who do not want to correct themselves, God lets them, and thus one sometimes meets ungodly people who enjoy a semblance of happiness here below. It is of them that St. Augustine said, “There is no greater misfortune than the happiness of sinners,” or again, “It is a great cross not to have to carry a cross.”
Making a trip to Rome one day, St. Ambrose (+ 397) bishop of Milan visited a patrician, who lived in a rich country house. The holy bishop talked for some time with his host, and they came to discuss the problem of evil. St. Ambrose pointed out that all those whom God loves have to suffer here below and that suffering patiently endured is necessary to gain heaven. The rich Roman replied that he did not believe this and that he had never suffered in his life. At this answer the holy bishop called his servant and said to him: “Let’s leave as soon as possible, I will not stay in this house. Where there is no suffering, one is far from God.”
Suffering is a mark of divine favor. Those who are free from all sufferings are not among the beloved children of God.