Priests on Call IV: Words of Wisdom

Based on true stories about priests
by Thomas A.Flynn, LC | Source:

 “Father, why does God hate me?” 

            That was the question Fr. Peter Flannigan heard while awaiting his train’s arrival. Judging by the ragged clothing and poorly shaven face the man carried, father could tell that his past had been full of difficulties and that he was not out of the clear yet. 


“What do you mean?  God loves you so much that he made you one of his own children.”  He replied with a grin.  The man let out a pathetic laugh that raised his shoulders and then gazed at Fr. Peter with his light green eyes full of sorrow and hurt before speaking again. 


“Father, I am 73 years old and I have been living on the street since I was five.  I have suffered through more things than most people can even imaging.  I have nothing, I have been imprisoned when I was innocent, I have been treated as dirt and I have been abandoned by all.  If God loves me why does he make me suffer all of this?”  He adjusted his hat and waited for an answer. 


 “Look, I don’t know the exact reason why God has asked you to suffer more than other people have but I am confident that He has a reason for it and that all of this suffering has value in His eyes.”  The man took a drink from the bottle he was carrying while he pondered what father said.  “No”, he replied.  “I think there are just people who God made to suffer and there are those he made to enjoy life.  God made me to suffer and I just need to accept it.”


“What’s your name?” Fr. Flannigan asked. 




“Well, Jacob, I know that you have suffered a lot in your life but I do not think that we could say that it all has come from God.  Wouldn’t it be better to say that you have suffered many things because of decisions you made in turning away from God?” father said, while pointing to the bottle in Jacob’s hands which he slowly lowered.  “Perhaps” He said, “But there is still no reason why he would let all of this happen to me.  There is not point to it!”  In that moment Fr. Peter could hear them announcing his train’s departure. “Jacob, I need to catch a train. But before I go I want to ask you a favor.” 


“Sure Father.” He said.  “The next time you have to suffer or are in a tight situation, I want you to offer it up for me so that I can be a holy priest who will help many people.”  Before knowing it Jacob had grabbed father’s hand and was holding it tightly to his heart.  As tears came down his cheek, leaving clear lines across his rugged face, he said, “Father, thank you.  I will offer it all up for you, and I thank you for bringing me peace.”  In the end Jacob found reason for his suffering.   Just like the sun’s rays can be strong at times but necessary for flowers to grow and strengthen, so is suffering in our life.  It can be hard to swallow but it’s necessary for us to grow and come closer to God.



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