Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

The Question Box

by Father I.J. Mikulski

(From the July 31, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. I would appreciate it if you would explain what current countries are Tarshish, Put, Lud, Moshech, Rosh, Tubal and Javan, as written by Isaiah 66:18. I cannot find anything that gives even a slight clue.

A. That’s typical of Deutero-lsaiah. Well, what did we expect? A divine road map in the last few lines?

The D-l reader is a spectator watching the triumphal procession of survivors converging on the holy city Jerusalem from all directions. They come from Tarshish in Southern Spain, Put and Lud from Africa, Moshech, Rosh and Tubal from the Black Sea region, and Javan, from the Ionian Islands of Greece.

Those pilgrims are survivors of horrible persecutions. “On their way they shall see corpses of men who have rebelled against me. Their worm will not die nor their fire go out; they will be loathsome to all mankind.”

They shall go to the place in Jerusalem where human sacrifice was once practiced, the same area that later became the city dump. It’s typical of prophetic pain and horror to be matched with grief and sorrow. Revelation is the mother lode for that concept.

Jesus Christ, as he faced his last days (Matthew 25:31), remarked, “all nations will be assembled before him and he will separate one from another” as they come from Tarshish, Put, Moshech, Detroit, Chicago, Omaha, Seattle and places in between.

Q. Can you explain this? The Bible, as in St. Paul’s writings, prohibits the participation of women in any form of church liturgy. He stated women must “be silent” which eliminates their singing in choir and also being active otherwise in liturgies. Has that occurred to our church leaders?

A. Yes, of course. Our venerable leader Pope John Paul commented on St. Paul’s statement. He simply noted that we ought to observe the elementary distinction between matters of doctrine that stay firm and matters of cultural observances that keep changing in time and place.

Paul is insistent when he writes about the Eucharist as the core substance of our faith. He’s eloquent when he describes “What I received from the Lord...” (1 Cor.11) as he continues for two more paragraphs. Then he repeats that for emphasis one more time.

Writing to his friend Timothy, he advises women to “wear suitable clothes.” “A woman should be quiet and respectful....” But in the next paragraph he ratchets it up a notch by insisting that “the presiding elder must have an impeccable character.”

Q. What answer do you give to a young lady who sees hardship and suffering in many lives and who then asks, “Why does a loving God allow that?” Fires, floods, and earthquakes make thousands of people suffer without purpose. How can you compare that with the will of a loving God?

A. If there is an easy answer to human suffering Job would have found it in the Old Testament. He didn’t and we haven’t.

Your friend is suggesting that a loving God should intervene in human affairs to prevent all suffering, major pains and minor hurts. We deserve total shelter under the divine umbrella.

Would that divine immunity be available even when our pain is self-inflicted, such as lung cancer from smoking and hangovers from drinking? Would we be spared beneficial pains such as toothaches to alert us to dental decay and chest pains for angina?

One step beyond that: Should a loving God be accused of neglect because he does not intervene when we cause pain and suffering where there was no pain and suffering before? When Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, is a fine book on this very subject.

A summary of Old and New Testament wisdom concludes that the problem of human suffering – floods and earthquakes – defies human reason. Wisdom is bankrupt. Only faith makes suffering tolerable.

Everybody hurts someplace sometime. We are born crying and we die moaning. And many times in between. Ancient wisdom prompted Job to say, “Even if he kills me I will still trust him.”

(Father Mikulski welcomes your comments and questions. Write to him at 7718 Westwood Dr., Oscoda, Mich. 48750.)

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