God is our refuge and our strength,
an ever-present help in distress.
Therefore we fear not, though the earth be shaken
and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea. (Ps 46:2-3)
Natural disasters, you name them — earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, et cetera — have a tendency to separate people into groups: those who see God’s hand in what is happening and begin condemning others, those who fear that God is causing the phenomena and lose their faith in Him, and those who see that God is present, with them, in the midst of all the turmoil in order to lead and guide them through it to something better.
Seeing God present to us and for us takes a great act of faith on our part. After all, our sinful inclination would be to reject God when we see awful things happening.
Too many people in life do just that: reject God.
They do not see that God could possibly be with them, that God is leading them through devastation to something else, that God would never abandon them.
You do believe that, don’t you? You do believe that God would never abandon you, right?
In today’s Gospel, we hear the story about the man at Bethesda. For thirty-eight years, he had been coming to the pool hoping for a cure. Thirty-eight years.
He joined many others who were blind or lame. Never had the opportunity come to him to get to the pool first when the waters were mixed so that he could be healed.
He could have given up. Thirty-eight years is a long time to keep coming back and hoping.
When Jesus addressed him, the man stated that he had no one to help him to the pool. Jesus’ instruction to him was quite simple: “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” The man did so.
Throughout my almost thirty-three years as a priest, I have been edified over and over again by parishioners who have suffered for a long time and who still cling — strongly — to their faith in God. They do not feel abandoned. They continue to hope.
Would it that would be the case for everyone in this world of ours!
FAITH ACTION: Pray for those who fear so much that they have given up the practice of any kind of faith.