The Land of the Living
It is easy to believe that one will see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living, if he is in the prime of life with everything going well. But how many people are ever in such a condition and for how long? In the midst of all the suffering of this world, how can the Psalmist say, in the voice of every human being, “I believe that I will see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living”?
Well, what are the good things of the Lord? If they are peace, prosperity, health, and things of this sort, then they will be absent from the land of the living for very many people.
The Second Reading for the Seventh Sunday gives a different sense of the good things, though. The things people rejoice in are the good things, aren’t they? The second reading recommends rejoicing when one shares in the sufferings of the Lord.
It is not so hard to see that there might be a reward in heaven for such shared suffering. But why would anyone suppose it is a good thing in the land of the living?
When the Lord suffered on the cross, those suffering with him were his closest companions. His mother was there, and so was his beloved disciple John. There is an intimacy in the union of shared suffering that is precious even as between human beings. What could be more precious than this intimacy of shared suffering with the Lord? In the Second Reading, Peter says that it is glorious.
This is a good thing that the wealthy of the world do not have a monopoly of. The Psalmist is right, then. Anyone can hope for the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
Eleonore Stump is Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University
**From Saint Louis University