Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Heading to Our Graves Slowly But Surely

A church friend in his early fifties has just been diagnosed with cancer and is awaiting medical tests and therapies. The news was rather shocking and disturbing to say the least, not only because of his relatively young age, but also because he is a very well-respected and popular figure in the Chinese Catholic community here in Toronto, known particularly for his charity and holiness. The heartbreaking news came only one year after another beloved church friend of about the same age had succumbed to lung cancer and passed away.

Anytime an unfortunate incident happens, our immediate reactions are inevitably sadness, disbelief, or for some people even anger or a refusal to accept. As emotions subside, our inquisitive instinct kicks in and we begin to ask ourselves questions with the earnestness of a philosopher caught in deep and perplexing reflection:  Why do righteous people suffer from misfortunes? Why doesn’t God give them special protection? Is He incapable of doing so? If yes, how can we say He is almighty? If no, how can we say an almighty God who allows the righteous to suffer is just?

Similar questions have been explored elsewhere in my talks and in other articles previously written. Being not quite in a philosophical state of mind at this moment, I am not going to revisit these issues here. What crosses my mind though is the very real possibility that one day similar misfortunes might just happen to me. The thought of dying is never pleasant. And yet there’s no denying that with each and every passing day we are inching closer and closer to our graves.

Far from living in the grip of fear, the realization of the imminence of death is actually making me work harder to ensure that the years that the good Lord gives me are used as productively and meaningfully as possible. I am already in my late fifties. The youthful days when death was like a foreigner from a distant land who had nothing to do with me were long gone. What has once seemed so remote is now breathing down my neck; what has once been written off as essentially irrelevant is now a stark reality.

Let’s face it; anyone at my age will readily admit that the good and productive years still left in them probably can be counted with just two bare hands. Beyond that, the years of visiting doctors and taking medical tests, of being rushed in and out of hospitals; and the endless idling moments of gazing at a fish bowl in a senior home just may not be too far away. People often suggest that my early retirement has given me more time. With this new perspective in mind, I actually feel like I have less time! This explains the urgency of my personal ministry.


  1. Dear Mr. Lo,

    Thank you for reading my comments to your blog. First, let me introduce myself . . I am a friend of your sister, Betty. We attended the same congregation for many years. Now we are in adjacent congregations.

    I appreciated your comments about injustice and the evenuality of death. Yes, that is unnatural and there is a solution. Like you I had a background in Catholicism. I attended dioceses operated schools through 12th grade. I really do appreciate the education I received from the nuns. They took their work seriously and I had the advantage of 4 years of Latin and science and math. You know how important this is to a good academic start. But my education took a different turn when I started to study the Bible in law school. That is when I started to get satisfying answers to my questions about life and the future. The questions that you raised are not uncommon. And I am sure that Betty and your fine nephews may have offered your thoughts on what the Bible says in answer to your inquiries. Your questions are valid and reasonable and your deserve reliable answers. As a Catholic, I always had a bible in my possession, but I did not learn how to use it until I studied with Jehovah's Witnesses. For example, you asked about the ability of Jehovah God to do something to help us. We clearly need help. Each and every one of us needs help, there are no exceptions. In our imperfect state, we are all dying. So Jehovah provided the perfect solution: John 3: 16 says . . you have a bible. Any translation will tell you the same thing. Jesus is our savior and now reigning King of the Messianic Kingdom. By means of this Kingdom, we have a future and a hope. That is why Jesus reminded us to pray: "Our father, who art in heaven . . hallowed by they name . . thy Kingdom come." I never understood that prayer until I read that the "Kingdom" was a real government that was going to destroy all other governments and establish peace and the hope for everylasting life on earth (See Daniel 2:44). this is just the beginning, but there is so much more in the Bible that will make sense to you when you realize that the Kingdom is now functioning and will soon act to remove sin and death . . especially the "wages of sin" (Roman 6: 23).

    Betty and I are going to another student now and I hope to have the opportunity to chat again. I work at the Patterson Education Center of Jehovah's Witnesses in upstate New York and you can reach me by email at carolyn.wah@gmail.com. It would be a pleasure to correspond with you and your wife. I have long admired Betty and her family and count it a pleasure to speak to you.

    Best regards,

    1. Dear Carolyn,

      Thank you for you kind comments and for introducing yourself. I go to NY often and would love to meet you the next time I’m there.

      Although we share a common background in Catholicism, the paths that we travelled surely took two diametrically opposed directions: you leaving the Catholic Church to join the Jehovah Witnesses; and I, having received the grace of a deep and prolonged conversion, being renewed to become a strong defender of the Catholic faith. If time allows, please read some of the posts on my blog just so you’ll know my background more. I’ve been conducting a program entitled the “Catechism Revisited Program” for years, which is designed to help the Catholic faithful to understand the Catholic faith better. You are also welcome to browse the web site of this program and listen to my talks (web address: http://crp.cmccbsp.org/?cat=13). The questions I raised in this post on the mystery of suffering are addressed in session #5 of this program.

      The dedication of the Jehovah Witnesses and their tireless effort to promote the Bible have always had my greatest respect. I can see how the faith of my sister and her family members has contributed to the love and strong bonding that hold them together ever so closely. Similarly I appreciate that you took the time to share with me your views about John 3:16, the Lord’s Prayer, and the coming of the Kingdom of God. I can see some differences between us in understanding these scriptural passages. The differences exist because JW, like many other Christian denominations, choose not to read the Bible based on the faith handed down to us by the Church Fathers through 2000 years of apostolic succession. Even so, we have the greatest respect for the JW and the separated brothers and sisters of the other Christian denominations, trusting that they also possess many spiritual riches. So we welcome every opportunity to promote ecumenical dialogue. Maybe we can do that the next time I visit New York.

      Peace and blessings!

  2. Poster Carolyn above put "but I did not learn how to use it until I studied with Jehovah's Witnesses.". And I suppose that's why she turned Jehovah's Witness.
    But for those Catholics who do learn how to use it and consequently benefit greatly from it, I wonder what Carolyn would suggest them - stay with Catholicism, or try Jehovah's Witness?

  3. Why would you trade in your Ferrari for an Acura?
    For ease of handling? No serious driving lessons required?
    Vatican is a virtually limitless treasure chest.