Can We Cause God to Suffer & Grieve?


Pope Francis remarked at an ecumenical prayer service on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul that “God suffers when we, who call ourselves his faithful ones, put our own ways of seeing things before his, when we follow the judgments of the world rather than those of heaven, when we are content with exterior rituals yet remain indifferent to those for whom he cares the most.”

It is true that many who claim to be Christian do not love the people God loves and do not work for the justice he desires.  But, how does this cause God to suffer and grieve? As the unmoved-mover, I thought that God could not be affected by us? Is it not true that Jesus having suffered his passion and death will never suffer again?


Even Popes are guilty of a certain poetic license when exhorting the People of God to contrition, amendment of life, good works and the pursuit of justice. The Holy Father is more concerned about moving us than giving an explication about the immutability of the divine nature. This is evident when Pope Francis says, “We can imagine with what suffering he must witness wars and acts of violence perpetrated by those who call themselves Christians.” Note that he says “imagine” and not that such is immediately the case in a temporal manner.

Theologically, we can speak of our Lord being grieved or about tears from heaven in terms of the incarnation and more specifically of the Sacred Heart. Our Lord is moved in his humanity, particularly on the Cross when all the sins of the world throughout all human history target him as the Lamb of God.  Our Lord is offended that many might love the distractions of life more than him and our fellow men and women. The late Pope John Paul II spoke at length about our necessary imitation of Christ and our Lord’s solidarity with the oppressed, the suffering and the poor. Indeed, he emphasized a preferential option that the Church has for the poor. We will not neglect the souls of the rich either, but the Church does play favorites as did Christ in his ministry on earth. Reciprocally, we are to see something of the face of our Lord in those who hunger and thirst, in the needy and the stranger, in the sick and those in prison.  Pope Francis understands violence as always opposed to the kingdom of Christ. That makes any who would try to take the kingdom by force into idolaters. 

I suspect the real question is not about causing heavenly suffering and grief but about why we bring so much trouble and pain upon ourselves and our brothers and sisters. When will we wake up? Why is it that so many seem to love death more than life?

About Father Joe

Father Joe Jenkins I am the pastor of Holy Family Church and a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s