Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
But God was not in the Earthquake...Reflection for Readings for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 10, 2014
Do you see God in nature? Do you see God in cataclysmic events? I love to watch storms. They are beautiful and terrifying, and wonderful to watch from the safety of indoors or from far away. One hopes, sometimes desperately depending on the severity of the storm, that no one is hurt by the storm, and it is saddening to learn that property or homes were damaged.
At the mountain of God, Horeb,
Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter.
Then the LORD said to him,
“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
the LORD will be passing by.”
A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
and crushing rocks before the LORD—
but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake—
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake there was fire—
but the LORD was not in the fire.
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Of course God is present in all places, and in everything, so we know God was in the wind, was in the crushing rocks, and in the fire, but Elijah did not hear or see God in those events. Elijah heard God in the tiny, whispering sound. This is how God was speaking to Elijah. Elijah learned to cut through the "noise" and hear the voice of God, not in the dramatic thundering surrounding the giving out of the commandments, but in the asking us to love one another through obeying his commandments to love one another as he loves us. In the Gospel, Jesus walks through the noise of the storm, speaks, and through his speaking calms the storm and Peter's fearful spirit.
Aren't we the same way? When tragedy strikes, when a so termed "Act of God" weather event destroys people's lives or homes, we do not hear God in the violence of those events. We know that God loves us and wants good for his children, wants good for people of all faith and for people of no faith. We know that God will come to our assistance, come to our aid in putting lives back together. We hear God in the whispered healing of the agencies, friends and neighbors who come in to assist people getting back on their feet. It is easy when one is a victim of a damaging storm or accident to ask God why. "Why God, why did you let this happen to us?" It is normal to ask and wonder, and a part of the process of coming to terms with an unwanted and unpleasant shift in one's life, an unfair hand dealt from the hand of life, and it is okay to ask God these questions. Sometimes there are no good answers, sometimes what is is simply what is, and sometimes the answers come in time, through receiving and accepting the gentle ministrations of others who come along beside you, those who say "we know, we don't understand why either, but we love you and are here for you." Those that like Jesus in the Gospel reading, reach out their hand to us and say "It is I, do not be afraid." Sometimes the damage can be prevented in the future, as when we learn more about how to implement safer building codes, or improve our warning systems.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Our faith life can go through storms, and there is a place of safe retreat. When we have doubts or fears about God and our relationship with God, we too can improve our warning systems, "hide our face in our cloak", stop looking out at the storms of doubts and learn listen for God's quiet reassuring voice. We find a quiet place of refuge to meditate on God's goodness in our lives, and draw strength from that "storm shelter". As we grow and mature as Christians, as people of faith, we learn to be less afraid of the storms. We learn to accept help from others when we lack faith ourselves. We can see the warning signs and retreat safely into the arms of God, dodging the worst of the storm. We can sit with God and watch the storm pass, notice its awesome and terrible beauty, pray that no one will be hurt by it, and stand ready to offer comfort and healing.
When we see others going through the storms of faith, like St. Paul in the passage from Romans, we can have great sorrow and anguish in our hearts for them, learn to empathize, even acknowledge the desire that we could take the storm's "beating" instead of them, and reach out our hands, be the hands of Christ for them as so many have been the hands of Christ for us. When we turn our selves toward Jesus, turn our spirits inward to the quiet voice saying "this too shall pass, all will be well" and wait, we will find that eventually the storm does pass, and God was with us in the storm all along.