Archbishop Gomez: God was not silent in Hurricane Katrina disaster

.- Although the horrors of Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the U.S. Gulf Coast two weeks ago, has become a source of despair and dismay for many, San Antonio Archbishop Jose Gomez is challenging his people to see the ever-present face of God in the midst of tragedy.

In a special editorial Saturday in the San Antonio Express-News, the Archbishop said that “When Hurricane Katrina was forcing its will on the cities and the people of Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, it seemed that the only voice that could be heard was the roaring of an angry wind and the human cry for help.”

He described a “deafening silence” heard by many in the days following the storm and subsequent flooding which begged the question--repeated by many in the last two weeks--‘where was God?’

“God”, said the Archbishop, “was in the fearful mother driven only by her desire to protect her children. God was in the heroic acts of men and women who risked their lives, some losing them, to save those they loved and those they hardly knew.”

“God truly was present in Katrina,” he wrote, “even in the darkness it brought, allowing us to see how fragile life can be, and how, when the storm grew quiet, all that we ever had that truly mattered was him and each other.”

He stressed that “In the face of the devastation of Katrina, God was not silent. His voice has been heard in the welcoming words, embraces and hard work of literally thousands of people involved in restoring the lives of evacuees.”

Archbishop Gomez pointed to the Gospel of Matthew, specifically the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, in which “the disciples were concerned that they could not feed the thousands who had been listening to Jesus preach that day.”

“They wanted”, the Archbishop said, “to send them away, but Jesus told them, ‘There is no need to go away; give them some food yourselves‘…The disciples looked at how little they had but still did what he told them, and the miracle happened, and all were fed.”

“Today,” he wrote, “even in the face of our modest means, we have seen the miracle of healing begin as we listen to the voice of God and have given so much to our brothers and sisters of the storm. We have also been God's hands and his strength as we have fed the hungry, provided shelter to the homeless and comforted the mourning.”

As San Antonio--along with greater Texas and many other parts of the country--is flooded with displaced hurricane victims, the Archbishop wrote that, “The evacuees have become our neighbors. As a community, we must make sure that we continue the work God has begun in the wake of this terrible calamity. We cannot let this moment of grace, this opportunity for the outpouring of God's love and acceptance, to be tossed aside like yesterday's news.”

“The poor and suffering are here, even when the TV cameras aren't,” he challenged. “Let them hear God's voice in us, even when their needs are hidden in the monotony of tomorrow.”

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