You may remember present-day stories of people who are currently reeling from great disasters caused by huge tornadoes. The devastation we see on TV makes our hearts want to cry, so we prayed as helpless intercessors for them. Shared helplessness is certainly a common bond among those grieving either their own loss, or the loss sustained by someone else. We may have cause to think, where is Elijah (1st Reading: 1 Kgs 17:17-24), or where is Jesus (Gospel: Luke 7:11-17?, Both brought the dead back to life in our readings today. All of us want certainties in life; we dislike painful surprises.
All we know for sure is that we can’t blame God for the bad news. In the midst of disaster, it is possible for all of us, while still in shock, to overlook or forget another reality: Jesus is indeed always present. We read about his compassion in our gospel (Luke 7:11-17). Now we see his disciples continuing his mission of compassion, as they serve and help the grieving survivors in places experiencing tornadoes in any way they can. Pity and compassion know of no religious boundaries; instead, they come from a heart filled with Jesus’ own love.
Only Jesus can bring meaning out of chaos. Jesus has power over death. While we cannot imitate such power, we can imitate his compassion! Each one of us knows all too well the tragedies that follow or flow from hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones, drought, pestilence, and other things we call “natural” disasters. When things seem hopeless, our faith is put to the test. We cling to the one who promises eternal life, knowing that somehow all things turn out for the best, because God is working in all things (Rom. 8:28)
We know this because the Father sent his only Son to live among us and teach us. He suffered and he died. He understands suffering and dying. He has “been there, done that”... Now he wants us to trust him, to accept and endure with faith and hope whatever comes our way in life.
It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him. Already he has given a sign and pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life.