Thursday, November 1, 2012

Is "Sandy" a punishment from God?

Statue is all that is left in Breezy Point, Queens



"See, the storm of the Lord will burst out in wrath, a whirlwind swirling down on the heads of the wicked."  Jeremiah 23:19


Recently, a huge hurricane nicknamed "Frankenstorm" hit the north eastern section of the United States of America.  The storm was predicted to be one for the record books.  Those predictions were not far off.  The storm was the biggest storm to hit the area in a century or so.  Some parts of the region had just finished recovering from hurricane Irene which passed nearby in the summer of 2011 only to have more destruction.

New Jersey saw floods like never before.  Towns are under water.  Homes and other buildings were washed away like sand castles.  Even New York City, a city that is known to handle anything suffered flooding of the kind that has never been witnessed.  Lower Manhattan was overtaken by huge surges from the Hudson river.

Further north, both the Hudson and East rivers had a surge so large that it reached deep into Manhattan!   As a New Yorker, I was left dismayed by the footage of the waters flooding the city.  These things seem to only happen in the south.  We New Yorkers always see these kinds of floods and surges occur in Florida, New Orleans, and so on; however, it happened to our beloved town.

Like scenes from the movie "The Day After Tomorrow," the waters rushed through streets and avenues causing power outages and severe damage to the MTA's transit system.  Subway tunnels were flooded.  Tunnels where thousands of cars pass to and fro were flooded.  Even the WTC's "Ground Zero" became a waterfall with water falling downward almost like Niagra falls.  There was even worry that the sea wall holding back the Hudson was compromised.  I was in shock as I saw Brooklyn's Coney Island flooded.  I visited there during the summer and saw the spots I was at completely underwater.  So much disaster in just a few hours.  (see http://sacerdotvs.blogspot.com/2012/10/hurricane-sandy.html)

Many quickly began to ask, "Is God bringing down His wrath?"  Others asked, "Where was God?"   These questions are two among many that clergy much wrestle with.  They are sometimes not easy to answer.

Jesuit priest, Father James Martin, SJ tweeted:


Is this so?  Is God not punishing anyone with this "act of God?"  This is hard to answer.  While I understand Fr. Martin's attempt to calm everyone down, he does not know what God's will was in this instant - no one does.  All we can do is speculate.

As we all know, the Old Testament is full of verses regarding God showing His justice.  From fire from the sky to floods and plagues, God has shown people that He is not one to mess with or ridicule.  In the New Testament, God seems calm, but does show His wrath when people are using the Temple to make money and when Jesus died on the Cross.

God is indeed merciful, but He is just as well.  There cannot be peace or order without justice.  That being said, we must take this time as we heal to recollect and try to understand why this storm occurred apart from the reasons science gives us.

The north east has the most states that recognize so-called "same sex" marriage.  Ironically, after New York legalized it, there was an earth quake and Irene hit.  Was this God showing disapproval?  Again, this is hard to say.  Moreover, New York City recently passed laws making it harder for Pro-Life people to counsel and help women seeking an abortion.  Bigots like those of Westboro are allowed to bother people at funerals, but pro-life people can't help women.  What is the world coming to?

If that is not bad enough, New York City has allowed graphic sex ed courses to be taught to children and is even distributing contraception to them!  What's crazy is that if a child has a headache, the school nurse cannot give any aspirin.  However, the child can get birth control with ease and without consent from parents!

The City has also tried hard to ban religious groups from using public schools on weekends.  What harm can a religious group do by using a school auditorium to worship?  The buildings belong to the public.  As long as a particular religion is not taught in a public school during normal school hours, then there should be no issue with using the school for worship especially when done on a weekend.

I can go on and on, but you get the point.  An atmosphere against God and morality has overtaken the region.  What's good is now considered bad and what's bad is now considered good.

"The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet."  Nahum 1:3

While we as Catholics believe in the Divine Mercy, we must also remember that God is just.  Are these natural disasters a warning?  

St. John Vianney had this to say:
"In fact, my children, it is sin that brings upon us all calamities, all scourges, war, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, fires, frost, hail, storms - all that afflicts us, all that makes us miserable." (Chapter 14 paragraph 8)
Nature rebels when sin gets out of control.  Nature ever since the fall has waited in frustration for the holy ones to rise up and bring about God's redemption and glory. (Romans 8:19-23)

Yes, God's ways are not ours as Father Martin states; however, that does not mean He will not show justice.  St. Faustina wrote about an angel sent to punish a city in her diary:

"I saw an Angel, the executor of God's wrath... about to strike the earth...I began to beg God earnestly for the world with words which I heard interiorly. As I prayed in this way, I saw the Angel's helplessness, and he could not carry out the just punishment...."

She continues in the diary speaking of mercy and how she was taught the Divine Mercy chaplet which somehow assists in holding back God's wrath.

I truly believe God is merciful.  Humanity has gone wild for centuries, yet we are still around.  If this does not show that God is merciful, then I don't know what does.  Moreover, if God was punishing the north east with Sandy, then why weren't the guilty ones targeted?  On the news, we see and hear of children and elderly dying, hospitals full of newborns and the sick being left in darkness without electricity.  What did these people do to deserve this huge hurricane?

We just don't know what was the reason behind this storm other than it was a natural phenomenon that is part of the package of living on planet Earth.   Maybe it was God trying to wake everyone up, who knows.  
We must reflect on it.

In any event, we must stop wasting time pointing fingers and focus that energy on helping those affected as we contemplate why this storm happened where it did and when it did.    


To help the relief efforts, please go here: http://sacerdotvs.blogspot.com/p/hurricane-sandy-reli.html
    


Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/hurricane-sandy-god-theology-clergy-victims-cope_n_2041936.html

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