An interesting week just passed. Maybe that is an understatement. An earthquake, a hurricane . . . what’s next? Forget that I even asked that question.
As I heard the information that was passed on to us regarding hurricane Irene, I wondered what I should do. Certainly I prayed. Lord, avert this storm . . . . I listened to the governor’s messages and the recommendations (mandates) from state and local officials about evacuations. I thought about the situation in which I was currently living: one of the highest points in Somers Point, an apparently sturdy brick house (rectory), no old or dead trees nearby and, most important to me, a one-block proximity to a functioning hospital.
In the end, I made the decision to stay put. The hurricane was supposed to be hundreds of miles long. Where exactly would the safest place in southern New Jersey or the greater Delaware Valley be? Can anyone except God really know the answer to that question?
No Masses were actually cancelled this weekend. I resolved that if anyone showed up, we would have Mass for them. The numbers attending were, for the most part, not large but various people came for each Mass.
Thank God the people in our area seemed to weather the storm fairly well. There were power outages, some trees down, water in basements, and other minor damage—but all overwhelmingly survivable conditions.
At the time, I thought about the Scripture passage referring to the house built on solid rock:
Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. (Mt. 7: 24-25)
The analogy was loud and clear. A strong foundation is of utmost importance when facing earthquakes, storms, hurricanes and other acts of God. But it is even more important for our life of faith. Without a strong faith in God, the storms of life may, in fact, seem impossible or unbearable. We could wind up desperate and crying out for help like Peter did when he found himself sinking in the water:
But when (Peter) saw how [strong] the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt. 14: 30-31)
I do not advocate taking risky chances or ever foolishly putting ourselves in harm’s way unnecessarily. However, when those storms of life come and we are forced to face them—whether they are natural disasters, physical setbacks, sickness, death or any number of various spiritual trials—we can never go wrong seeking out the protection and assistance of the Lord Jesus.
With Him we can weather any storm.
Fr. Ed Namiotka