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  A Christian Faith Magazine January 2005, Volume 10, Issue 6  
Rev. Mark Connolly Remembering the Tsunami Victims
Rev. Mark Connolly
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tsunami
REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

Probably every person in the world has heard about the major Tsunami tragedy that took place in South Asia. Over 160,000 people were declared dead and the count still rises. From that incident people from all over the world are asking a question that always occurs whenever a major tragedy takes place. Where was God when this happened? Where was God when 9/11 happened? If you study all the great philosophers of the past, Socrates, Aristotle and Plato, all of those great philosophers when upheavals took place in the time in which they lived, just believed it was an act of nature, nothing more nothing less. When you look at the life of Albert Schweitzer who one time said, every amoeba, the lowest form of existence has its own will. When you look at nature, it, too, has its own will. Why did it erupt at a particular time in South Asia? Why does it demolish and decimate the lives and the homes of hundreds of thousands? Every great philosopher has tried to come up with an adequate answer to where God is when all these tragedies occur. It is an amazing trick of our mind that we play on ourselves when you think of the fact that this was a nature made catastrophe.

Concerning this problem of evil, as the philosophers and theologians have called it, it has caused deep, deep research thoughts in the minds of men like St. Augustine and St. Thomas. As St. Augustine said, if you can ever answer the question as to why God allowed his only son to suffer and die on a cross, then you might find a valid explanation as to tragedies of all kinds all throughout the world.

When you think of it, in the plan of God he sent his only son, his only son was crucified, his only son during his hours on the cross cried out, "my God, my God why have you forsaken me". Then the last few words on the Cross, "not my will be done O God, but yours". In the study of Jesus Christ on the cross, there is a partial explanation as to all the tragedies that happen in our lives. Inevitably in every tragedy something good will emerge. Just think of this, from an individual who fell and cut his eye on a piece of glass in his father's table shop in France, came the Braille method of sight reading that gave sight to over five million blind people. From out of the deafness of a Thomas Edison came the new concepts in sound that enable us to enjoy stereo today. From out of a family that experienced polio came the Salk vaccine and from out of the death of Jesus Christ came the divine guarantee that you and I will one day have a place in the kingdom that he has gone on to prepare for us.

tsunami
AFP

What will come out of this tragedy in South Asia? Will there be an extraordinary amount of compassion and charity pouring into that area that might never have occurred if the Tsunami had never taken place? Is it possible that this kind of charity and compassion because of this tragedy will enable people all over the world to see that more good can be done through charity than through war? Every scripture writer has told us that no one ever escapes the cross. The cross might come to us in the form of personal sickness in our own life, personal tragedy in the lives of others or cosmic tragedies such as in the lives of the people in South Asia. God is still there. God is still present in those lives after the tragedies have occurred. What each of these tragedies should teach us is to intensify our faith, to intensify our hope. Faith enables us to realize that there is an answer to every question. Hope teaches us that there is a solution to every problem. Faith and hope teaches us that we are not going to get the answers and solutions this side of heaven. Faith and hope teaches us that there is a God of love, a God of mercy, who recognizes that just as his son had to suffer and die so that we could gain heaven so each one of us in imitation of Christ is going to suffer and die so heaven can be won by each one of us. There is no question that Christ did not want the cross as experienced in the words, "my God, my God why have you forsaken me". There is no question that Mary, his mother, at the foot of the cross must have been in horrendous anguish when she heard her son cry out these words.

There is no doubt in the mind of any Saint today that tragedies can lead us to God. Tragedies can bring greater charity and greater compassion into the lives of others. This tragedy in South Asia will prompt all of us to be charitable and compassionate and this tragedy can be an occasion of hearing from God the words, well done good and faithful servant. Because you took care of the unfortunate on earth enter into the kingdom I have prepared for you.

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