Sunday, 1 September 2013
When disasters happen
Father Ignatius stopped his cooking for a minute and listened attentively. There had been a train crash not far from where he lived. Somehow the train was de-railed and fell down a steep embankment into a nearby river. There were a number of casualties as well as many injuries.
The priest rang the emergency number given by the radio announcer to enquire how he might help. He was asked to go to the local hospital to donate blood, and also to help comfort some of the not seriously wounded.
An hour or so later he was consoled that many of the town’s folk had responded to the appeal and a long queue had formed to donate blood.
That disaster had shaken the town’s morale badly. Father Ignatius decided, unconventionally as it might seem, to make the train crash the subject of his sermon on Sunday.
He approached the lectern and said: “Let us pray for the victims and the injured of the train crash which happened a few days ago; as well as for their family and friends.
“This train crash has come as quite a shock to all of us, especially as it comes so close to the tragedy last week when a bus driver lost control of his bus and killed several school children walking on the sidewalk.
“When such disasters happen, some of us get a little confused and ask why God made it happen. Some even blame Him for the disaster believing that a loving God should have prevented it.
“I say … Praise the Lord!”
Father Ignatius paused for a while to allow the murmurs in church to die down.
“I can see from your faces that some of you think I’ve gone mad,” he continued.
“Father Ignatius has lost his marbles … he is a few Hail Mary’s short of a Rosary … his little grey cells have turned to ashes … and whatever other metaphors you wish to make up to describe my sanity or lack of it.
“Of course I recognise and I'm deeply shocked by the terrible tragedies that have befallen this town in the last few days. Especially when we consider as well the severe economic crisis we’re living through and how it is affecting many families facing loss of work and income. And how misery tends to enjoy company and has visited many local communities lately.
“Please don’t misunderstand me … when such disasters happen we must help in every practical way we can.
“But I also wish to ask you to consider this … Where do you think God is when a disaster happens?
“Is He hiding behind the settee cringing in fear at what is happening in the world today? How it’s all gone wrong and He can’t handle it anymore?
“Or is He still in control of all that is happening in the universe?
“When we praise Him, we’re not doing so because of the disaster, but because He is still in control of this and every situation.
“In doing so, we acknowledge His greatness, His omnipotence and that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
“By praising Him, no matter what the situation, we somehow open a channel for His grace to shine upon us and, if it is His will, a good outcome will result from a bad situation.
“The alternative of course is to rebel and blame Him for the bad situation that befalls us. And where will this lead us I ask you?
“How dare we … insignificant minuscule little creatures that we are … how dare we question His will and in so doing distance ourselves from His love and mercy?
“Of course we’re hurt and shocked by what has happened recently and we’re confused. We wouldn’t be humans if we weren’t.
“But I urge you, having prayed for the victims and their families and friends, having helped practically where we can, let us now stand and confidently praise the Lord that He is still in control of everything.”