The Deep Meaning of Fasting, Gethsemane and the Problem of Suffering

Father Matta El-Meskeen, Monastery of Saint Macarius The great ©

 

 The complete teaching:pdf 14 pages, pdf

 

Exerpt: Before Gethsemane suffering was a punishment The pain and sadness that follow disasters, injustices, and hardships, and the sickness, humiliation, and degradation that accompany them, remained a question that had no answer, except in the words “sin” and “punishment.”


There was no hope in suffering as long as there was no cure for sin. And sorrow was bitter and destructive as long as there was no ransom for punishment. Moreover, the unjust distribution of suffering caused distress, anxiety, and bewilderment. An innocent child may be the victim of wrong, suffering, and torture just as much as the most evil of men. It may be that good and humble men suffer more than the recalcitrant and profligate, for there is no way to discover any law or principle that governs the distribution of suffering. Why? Because sin ruled over man instead of God, and sin knows no law. The law of sin is injustice; its rule is inequality and its principle is tyranny.


Now if we chose sin by our own desire, could we blame God that we have fallen under sin’s oppressive law? So that we would not blame our Creator for the suffering that bears down upon us as a result of the sin we committed by our own capricious will, God sent His Son in a human body to suffer the sufferings of man, though He Himself did not deserve to suffer. In Gethsemane, and after, the Son of God suffered and His soul was sorrowful unto death, and His sweat fell in drops like blood, as though He were bleeding from some hidden wound.


Let us consider this: If a sinful man suffers and is oppressed by a certain amount of pain, it is because this is the law of sin. And if a good man suffers more than an evil man, it is because the law of sin holds sway over them both; in the rule of sin there is no just distribution.

 

Credit and Attribution

Father Matthew the Poor is Spiritual Father of the Monastery of St. Macarius, Wadi el-Natroun, Egypt. This article was originally published by the St. Mark Monthly Review, a journal published by the monastery, and is reprinted here with express permission from the monastery of Saint Macarius the Great.

 

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