Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Homily for the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

For an entire week, we have witnessed the terrible destruction wrought by hurricane Katrina on the Gulf States. In the midst of the tragedy and continuing aftermath of the storm, we might be tempted to doubt God’s goodness or his love. The dire conditions that exist for the refugees can strain our faith. “Where is God in this mess?” we wonder.

How can God, who is all-powerful and all-good, permit such tragedy to exist? We witnessed the horrible effects of the Asian tsunami last Christmastime; mudslides, earthquakes, volcanoes – so many tragedies that claim human life and increase suffering for those who do not die.

I was very fortunate to speak with two very close friends of mine yesterday afternoon. I met both in the Army at chaplain school; one is a Navy chaplain now, the other is a National Guard Chaplain Candidate. Both are in Mississippi right now.

After thanking God that they were simply alive, we began to talk about conditions now. My two friends were speechless in the face of the devastation. One, a Navy Seebee Chaplain broke down when describing the impossibility of distributing Meals-Ready-to-Eat (MREs) and water. He didn’t have enough resources to care for the people suffering; and they didn’t have the capacity to do anything about it. They have no electricity, no clean water, and very little food remaining. My other friend’s property is almost entirely destroyed. Trees are everywhere, and even while they try to fell the trees and begin to rebuild, they, too, are without the necessities of life.

My Navy chaplain friend told me one distressing story of the nearby Catholic Church where he is in Gulfport. It isn’t there anymore. “Nothing is left; we have nothing,” he said.

When we look at this tragedy, and ask “where was God?” or, “how can God allow this to happen?” we ask the wrong questions. God is not a vengeful dictator who delights in the destruction and death caused by either human choice or natural disasters. We need, rather, to ask ourselves a different question: “How can I bring God into this situation?”

St. Paul reminds us “you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” and that “love is the fulfillment of the law.” Our Lord teaches this morning that “where two or three are gathered in my name,” that He is there, in our midst.

We, by our charity, our generosity, and our mercy, must bring God back to the people of the Gulf States. As we are gathered here, in the Name our Lord Jesus Christ this morning, we must unite in prayer on behalf of our brothers and sisters who even now remain homeless, hungry, and exhausted. Beyond our prayers – which we must continue and increase – Christ urgently pleads to us: “help me.”

Please search your hearts and use the yellow Missionary envelopes to offer a contribution to Catholic Charities for the victims of the Hurricane. Make the checks out to St. John Neumann, and we will send the total on behalf of the parish to the relief fund set up by the Bishops. But don’t let a monetary gift be the end of your charity; continue to ask God how you may help bring God back to the people of Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas, as they struggle with this crisis.

As we gather together in prayer, let us bear these, our suffering brothers and sisters, to the Lord in the Sacrifice of the Cross, confident that He is in our midst.