REFLECTION: When disasters strike PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 December 2011 13:19

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

We have to be ready spiritually and morally, and not just materially, socially, politically, etc., when disasters and calamities strike. In the end, this is really what matters.
This state of preparedness should not be reduced to lower levels, overtaken by other considerations that, while they may be more immediate, are not the ultimate and decisive factors.

At the moment, I can discern an unspoken lament over God’s role in these sad events. Why did God allow Typhoon Sendong to happen? Why did he let so many people, even innocent children, to die in such a manner? Why does he want us to suffer?

We have to be ready for the right answers to these questions that understandably would spring in anyone’s mind and heart. And for this, let’s not rely on our reasoning alone, but rather on our faith always.

Faith gives us a glimpse of the mind of God with respect to our human affairs and world events.

And what can we gather from our faith? What we can safely say is that God allows these disasters to happen, first,  because our natural world has its inherent finite and limited character. And God deals with the world as with us always respecting the nature the world and we have.

Sooner or later, our world and everything in it will meet their end. They will pass away. As an old Nat King Cole song would have it, “The Rockies may crumble,
Gibraltar may tumble, they are only made of clay, but our love is here to stay.”

That romantic line echoes what our Lord said: “Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass.” (Mt 24,35) It’s a clear indication that in our earthly affairs, we have to be guided by God’s word, by the faith God revealed and gave to us, more than just our gut feel, or our sciences, arts and technologies.

We can then say that disasters and calamities are occasions, reasons and invitations for us to grow in our faith, to go beyond what our senses can perceive and intelligence can understand. We need faith!

Thus, in the episode of our Lord with the apostles on a boat tossed by big waves of a storm, he reprimanded the apostles for their lack of faith when they in fear roused him from sleep to do something about the water threatening to sink them. “Why are you fearful: Have you no faith yet?” he told them. (Mk 4,40)

It’s not that we should not bother our Lord because of our faith. We can and in fact should bother him when we are threatened by disasters or are already suffering
in them. It’s just that we have to bother him out of faith, and not out of mere fear. With faith, our Lord can always calm down the raging seas of our life.

We have to strengthen our faith always. We have to see to it that our thinking, judging and reasoning are always infused by faith. We should never allow them to be inspired only by what we see, hear and feel, or even by what we understand. We have to go by our faith always.

Our earthly condition is made worse by the mistakes and sins we commit. So, not only do we have to contend with the natural limitations and weaknesses, but also with the infranatural factors of these sins and mistakes.

That is why, our Lord taught us how not only to have faith, but also to be ready to carry the cross with him. The cross is a necessary element of our faith. It signifies, among other things, the inevitable suffering we have to undergo in this life because of these natural and infranatural factors of our wounded human nature.
Knowing how to carry the cross with Christ enables us to face whatever disaster we can meet in life. Our cross then becomes the cross of Christ, a suffering that will lead us to our own resurrection, to our victory over sin, to our own perfection as children of God.

The cross of Christ, converts our suffering into something redemptive and perfective of us, and not just painful events of our lives. We have to assimilate this truth of our faith well.

For this, our Lord wants us to be ready always. “Know this, that if the good man of the house knew at what hour the thief would come, he would certainly watch... be you also ready, because at what hour you know not the Son of man will come.” (Mt 24,43-44)