Monday, June 29, 2009

Calm Our Storms

June 30, 2009

Tuesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

By Beth DeCristofaro

As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, "On your way! Take with you your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of Sodom." … “Oh, no, my lord!” Lot replied, … Look, this town ahead is near enough to escape to. It's only a small place. Let me flee there – it’s a small place, is it not? — that my life may be saved." (Genesis 19:15, 18-20)

…a violent storm came up on the sea… (Jesus) said to them, "Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?" Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. (Matthew 8:24-26)


Shelter under Thy protection, O Thou Spirit of purity, Thou Whom art the All-Bountiful Provider, this enthralled, enkindled servant of Thine. Aid him in this world of being
to remain steadfast and firm in Thy love and grant that this broken-winged bird attain a refuge and shelter in Thy divine nest that abideth upon the celestial tree. (Baha'i prayers - `abdu'l-bahá)


Jesus did not call up this storm; storms happen at sea. Jesus calmed the storm and amazed the hearts of his friends. They didn’t earn it – they had only “little faith”. But he loved his friends and acted upon that love as he did – and does - always. Storms happen in our lives, too, often changing our perspective. The loss of a spouse can bring a family back together. An attack causes a society to appreciate freedom in new ways. A disastrous accident raises heroes.

But we must be careful even as we learn from storms. Replacing one priority with another is not necessarily the lesson to be learned. Clinging to family too tightly can sour relationships. Grasping onto freedom as the greatest good can make societies insular and paranoid. Holding up heroes can cause us to look for villains or be disillusioned when the hero falters.

Storms can bring us to know God in new ways – a God who stills the storms within and about us, because we are loved. We can meet a God who listens and responds to our prayers because God loves us so much. Perhaps the disciples and Lot were saved not in spite of their “little faith” and grudging negotiations but because they turned to God in the storm. Was Lot’s wife’s action a turning away from God? Was she petrified by clinging to priorities which she could not leave behind? Lot bargained but he also trusted in God’s intention. Seeing storms as a way to know and love God better calls for surrendering our priorities and accepting Jesus’ invitation to follow him.


A violent, deadly storm for many people is hunger. How do we use food? Do we eat to assuage personal, internal storms such as loneliness, frustration, imperfections, or worries? Do we buy foods to impress and taste the most exotic? Do we waste food? Surrendering to God fills us as only God can fill us and allows us to share and give to others. How do we help others caught in the storm of hunger?

As reported in Zenit, Pope Benedict XVI’s June 14th appeal during the Corpus Christi Angelus address included, “[Hunger] is an absolutely unacceptable situation that even after the efforts of recent decades is proving difficult to reduce,” the Pope lamented. “I therefore hope that … strategic decisions will be made, sometimes far from easy to accept but which are necessary in order to assure basic foodstuffs and a dignified life to one and all, in the present and in the future.”

The Food and Agriculture Organization has reported that this year, global hunger will reach an all time high, with one-sixth (1.02 billion people) of the planet's population going hungry. The FAO affirmed that the increase in hunger is not due to poor harvest, but rather to the economic downturn that has brought about lower incomes, coupled with food prices being higher.

Hunger was being reined in during the 1980s and the first part of the '90s, but for a decade, it has again been on the rise, FAO reported. This year, the number is projected to rise 11%.

Though the majority of the world’s undernourished live in developing countries -- the most in Asia and the Pacific (642 million) -- there are some 15 million in developed countries as well.