Thursday of the Octave of Easter

Just this past Saturday I wrote about the “Good Friday Miracle”, devastating storms including four tornadoes that tore through the Saint Louis area doing horrific property damage but not taking a single life.  Last night our brothers and sisters in the southern United States weren’t so lucky.  A series of tornadoes, more than 100 total swept through Alabama and Georgia doing major damage and taking more than 100 lives.  More than 1 million people in northern Alabama are without electricity with the outages predicted to last four to five days.

I took particular interest in these storms because one of my sons, his wife, and my granddaughter live in Huntsville, right in the path of the storms.  Patrick called me around 6:00 to tell me that they had no way of knowing what was happening because they had no power.  I spent the next several hours watching streaming video from one of the Huntsville television stations and reporting back to him by cell phone.  Unfortunately, those circuits were jammed making it hard to get through.  My penultimate call was to tell him that a tornado was headed toward them and that they should take cover in the bathroom.  (They don’t have basements in Alabama.)

When I saw that the storm had passed them, I tried for a long time before I could get through to them.  Thanks be to God they were alright.  But it seemed like an eternity before I could get through and find out that everything was OK with them.

Now, by the light of day, I’m wondering why God spares some people and not others.  We know that everything happens for a reason but that’s small consolation to those who lost loved ones in the storm.  Of course we know that those who died in a state of grace are now in a much better place.  Thankfully we don’t know who goes where when they die, but those who are left believe, as we say with sure and certain hope, that the ones they lost are destined to spend eternity with God.  If we could know for sure that Uncle Cletus wasn’t among those bound for heaven, we most likely couldn’t go on.

But God is a merciful God and we hope that those who died are destined for heaven, even if they must spend some time in purgatory.  Face it, God’s mercy is the only thing that’s going to get many of us there.  So today, we pray for those who have died that God will have mercy on their souls.  And we pray for those who suffered damage to their homes and property that God will give them the grace and the determination to rebuild.

Why storms hit certain areas, particularly tornadoes which seem to jump around without rhyme or reason, destroying one home while leaving it neighbors untouched, we just don’t know.  What we do know is that technology provides us with very good warning systems.  Sadly, some of us just don’t pay attention to them much like we don’t pay attention to the warnings that Jesus gave us to prepare for the end of our time on earth.

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