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God Doesn’t Spare the Good from Grief

April 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Book Club, Sarah Reinhard

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Life of Christ (Week 3 of 27)

God Doesn't Spare the Good from Grief

It's all too easy, 2000 years later, to take the story of Jesus for granted. We look at the Cross and we see something that's old news. We look at the crèche and we see same old, same old.

Sheen reminds us, ever so eloquently, that there's nothing routine. In fact, what we have as we look at one, is a reminder of the other.

If there were no Cross, there would have been no crib; if there had been no nails, there would have been no straw. But He could not teach the lesson of the Cross as payment for sin; He had to take it. God the Father did not spare His Son—so much did He love mankind. That was the secret wrapped in the swaddling bands.

Life of Christ, Chapter 2: Prehistory Now History, Paragraph 9

We don't have a Savior who told us what to do. We don't have a God who points the way and kicks back with his coffee.

We have a God who's been there, who is there.

I'm pretty familiar with the story of salvation history, but as I'm reading through Sheen's prose, I feel like I'm hearing it for the first time. It's all too easy to forget how exciting it is and how relevant it is to our lives right here, right now.

God does not always spare the good from grief. The Father spared not the Son, and the Son spared not the mother. With His Passion there must be her compassion. An unsuffering Christ Who did not freely pay the debt of human guilt would be reduced to the level of an ethical guide; and a mother who did not share in His sufferings would be unworthy of her great role.

Life of Christ, Chapter 2: Presentation in the Temple, Paragraph 19

When I read and reread this section, I was struck with the thought of one particular friend I have who seems to be the very poster child for suffering. In some ways, she's living my nightmare: she buried two of her sons as infants and then her husband. By 35, she was a widow with two young daughters, living nearly 1000 miles and four states from her family.

Why her, God? Why her daughters? Why, why, why?

And yet, who better to understand this very situation than the Savior who spared not Himself…nor His mother? Who better to lean on than the mother who was at the foot of the Cross?

It is from Christ and from Mary that I see how to be compassionate in the face of terrible situations, how to be open to the hand of God even when it seems beyond belief, how to continue to pray even when all looks hopeless.

Reading Assignment:

Finish Chapter 2

Discussion Questions:

1. What was your favorite insight from today's reading? What of the images Sheen used stayed with you and inspired you?

2. Who can you pray for in a special way this week, turning to Mary as a compassionate mother?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at and is the author of a number of books for families.

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  • Mary Therese

    The image that really stuck with me this week was also in the section on the Presentation, (a couple paragraphs before the above quote) “He would act on one soul in one way, and on another in another way, as the sun shines on wax and softens it, and shine on mud and hardens it. There is no difference in the sun, only in the objects on which it shines.” I have pondered that one often in the past week. I keep looking at it different ways. One way, is as a reminder to (in the words of today’s CSD post) be gentle with others, because I don’t know entirely what “material” they are working with. Also, if I’m struggling with something, is it God? or is it the “material” I’M working with? Do I need to change myself, soften myself?

    Thank you for suggesting to pray for someone, turning to Mary as compassionate mother. I will pray for a dear friend who is suffering her 3rd miscarriage.

    • Oooo, love that quote too. My copy of this book is seriously getting dog-eared and underlined to high heaven. 🙂

      And I will pray with you for that friend, Mary Therese.

      • Mary Therese

        Thank you for your prayers, Sarah. And I’d mark up my copy too, except it’s from the library! 😉

  • tapnkc

    How hard it is to pick just one image. What continually haunted me was the beautiful contradiction that is Christ. You love him or you hate Him. But once you meet Him, you are never the same!

    Some beautiful moments in this section for me: Born in a cave, we need to stoop to see Him; holding Him, Mary looked “down” at Heaven; Divinity is the absence of power; Mary brought the Lamb of God into the world but in her poverty had no lamb to offer in the Temple; Christ took up residence in Nazareth, a despised village of obscurity.

    I pondered on how little the world has changed and how the culture of “prosperity” and “celebrity” devalues humility, simplicity and purity.

    Prayers—please for families that are separated by disagreements due to pride. May they find peace in reconciliation and learn to forgive.

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