Shaken and Bestirred

“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do…For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.” (Matthew 16:21,27)

I guess there are two kinds of Sunday Masses: run-of-the-mill Sunday Masses and Masses on the Sunday after an earthquake. At the run-of-the-mill Sunday Masses, distractions can get in the way. We don’t always open our minds to the Word of God like we should.

The same thing can happen at Mass after an earthquake. But coming to church after facing the possibility of sudden death and destruction can sharpen our attention somewhat.

Things like earthquakes can leave us wondering about the Providence of God. Thanks be to God, we did not suffer any serious damage this week. No injury, no loss of life. But we know well that sudden and apparently senseless death can come. Innocent people die in accidents every day. Others suffer unjustly. Why? Isn’t God in charge?

Maybe a televangelist, out there somewhere, has declared that the people of the mid-Atlantic must be sinners—since the Lord sent us an earthquake—but not really bad sinners—since the earthquake was only 5.9 on the Richter scale.

God is God, after all. He can send earthquakes, hurricanes, and plagues on whomever He wants to send them for whatever reason He has for sending them. But it does not require too much investigation on our part for us to discover that, if the Lord meted out His justice upon sinners strictly in the form of earthquakes, then there would not be a city left standing on the face of the earth. Washington, D.C., would not be standing, but neither would Rocky Mount, or Martinsville, or any other town.

The Word of God helps us to focus the matter. In the end, the Son of Man will come in glory with His angels, and He will repay us justly for our deeds.

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