'Acts of God?'

 

Start your meeting with the Sign of the Cross …

Someone read: (Romans 8: 28, 35 – 39)
“We know that by turning everything to their good, God co-operates with all those who love him, with all those that he has called according to his purpose. … Nothing therefore can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or even attacked. As scripture promised: for your sake we are being massacred daily, and reckoned as sheep for the slaughter. These are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of him who loved us. For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, or height or depth, not any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Read the script

Hello Everybody, and welcome to a New Year, 2005. I hope that this will be a year, buoyant in faith, abundant in love, and complete with fulfilled hopes. May you have good health and inner peace. May your family life be abounding in joy and laughter and the awareness of God’s love for you all. May there be good development and prosperity throughout our land and among all humankind. And, please God, may our weather be a little less extreme than last year.

But this year’s weather didn’t start off too well, did it? – though the sun is shining today as I write. Not so last weekend when road access to Wellington was again closed by flooding, slips and accidents. The effects that such events have on people’s lives is enormous: news reports told of distressed folk missing out on family weddings and gatherings; flights missed or cancelled, carefully made plans wrecked by the uncontrollable; dreamed holidays ruined and children’s hopes dashed. Just imagine the logistical nightmare of evacuating the 700 campers at Waikanae’s washed out El Rancho Camp. The fifty Marian Mothers on retreat last October at the nearby Forest Lakes Camp will have some idea!

But our difficulties fade into insignificance when one ponders the devastation caused by the Tsunami. That event in the Indian Ocean on Boxing Day, I suggest, is having as big an impact on the world as 9/11. While the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York City has caused a tightening of security, the Tsunami has evoked a world wide response of compassion and aid. The peoples of the world have come together in a way that the United Nations was founded for at the end of World War II.. The billions of dollars of assistance is an expression of good will and is a fine example of human solidarity. We who were on public holiday in NZ had greater opportunity to view the TV pictures coming in and were able to compare and contrast the calamity with our own peaceful situation. With citizens from so many nations in the affected area, a focus was created for a world-wide response. Like most, I observed the one minute’s silence for the victims.

Did you put yourself in the place of the young mother out shopping with her two under-fives, hand in hand? The Tsunami suddenly surges in, pulling all in its path. The two children cling to their mother. She can’t cope and begins to sink in the swirling water. She has to let one go in order to save the other. Which one does she shake off? What a horrible dilemma! She chose to care for the younger in the hope that the older would cope. A lady lent a hand; assisted the child to safety, but failed to survive herself.

The London Tablet tells us the sad story of pilgrims drowning at the sea side Marian shrine of Velankanni, not far from old Madras in southern India. Though there were no casualties inside the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, where around 2000 pilgrims were attending Mass, the 20 metre wave demolished the compound’s walls. In front of the Basilica, on the beach, 400 bodies have been recovered. In another parish, more than 100 people were drowned when the wave struck two churches packed with people attending Sunday morning Mass.

Break

People of Faith cannot avoid the hard question posed by events such as the ferocious tsunami. Where is God in all this? Man-made disasters can usually be attributed at some level to human frailty or human sin. Even widespread death and damage from earthquakes can sometimes be laid at the door of shoddy buildings, suggesting the cause lies in poverty, corruption of officials or bureaucratic negligence. Then social justice can be blamed and the remedy lies in human hands. But this earthquake and resulting tsunami were unprecedented both in scale and location. It is not fair to try to attribute blame. The world God made and “saw that it was good” is this one, not some other safer version. Words fail. In the midst of such tragedy, sometimes only silence will do.

The London Tablet reports that Father Radcliffe OP recalled how Dominican Missionaries, offering shelter in their churches to those fleeing from the Rwandan massacres, were similarly at a loss for words … “On the wall of the church there was a mosaic of Christ dying on the Cross and at the foot of the Cross were Mary and St John … All they could do was to be there with him. When the time for words comes, they will be given.” Like Mary, the mother of sorrows, we are left to ponder in our broken hearts. We stand alongside one another in support. Invigorated by the Spirit of God into whose hands we entrust our lives, we join with others in prayer and action.

Since Pentecost, God’s spirit lives in each Baptised person. Christ is the Head, we are the Body. What each one of us does, that is God acting in the world. His Body, the Church, is present and active.

As the Body of Christ, we are his hands and feet bringing God’s love to all, especially the disadvantaged. God is present when we care for one another.

Christians may not have easy answers to calamity, but with Christ’s suffering and death as the central focus of our worship and doctrine, we cannot be accused of being unaware of the question. “Why do these things happen? But let us not remain with that question but rather let us ponder the question: “What good can come out of our efforts to bring comfort and relief to those who suffer. As “all things work together unto good”, events like calamities can be redeemed by Christ.

May Christ dwell in you by faith, gladden you through hope, and enrich you in His Love.

Share your thoughts and concerns on this issue, choosing from among these questions

* What struck you most as you received information on the Tsunami? Do you have any personal stories?

* What stories of ‘redemption’ have you heard? i.e. good things that did happened and would not have otherwise happened - either from the tsunami or some other event.

* How do you feel about God acting through us as the ‘Body of Christ‘?

* How does God help us through tragedies (great or small) in our lives?

* Is there any lasting impression you think this event will have on you?

* Has this tragedy developed your faith in any way?


“Tsunami's 'silver lining'
for Sri Lanka : peace "

- The Times of India


“Spurred to action by the devastating southern Asian tsunami, top Bush administration science officials Friday pledged to double the country's investment in a warning system by greatly expanding detection technology in the Pacific Ocean and extending it into the Atlantic.” Pravda


Read the following prayer, then the grace

The Year of the Blessed Eucharist
O Sacred Banquet in which Christ is received ,
the memory of his passion is renewed,
the mind is filled with grace
and a pledge of future glory is given to us.

Each month during this year of the Eucharist, we will offer you a 'grace before meals' so that you may use it at table with your family and friends.

O Jesus, you fed the hungry crowd by the Sea of Galilee, so also feed us today. May this food refresh our bodies and bring peace to our lives; and bless especially those who provided and prepared it for us. We ask this in your name, Jesus Christ, Bread of Life. Amen.

Conclude the meeting with your usual prayers.