LEARN TO LIVE, LIVE TO LEARN
“To know much and taste nothing-of what use is that?” ―St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio
Are Calamities and Pandemics Punishment From God?
1. The first half of 2020 had been a time of calamities and disease: In January we have battled against Taal volcano’s wrath that left hundreds of thousands with damaged homes, destroyed livelihoods, and caused extreme hunger. Also in the same month, the Corona Virus had gained its foothold in the Philippines. It spread quickly and killed readily. Too late and too slow for a reaction. our leaders placed the capital and some regions under lockdown in March without a clear, comprehensive outlook on what will happen over the next few days, much less the next few months. Over 12 million struggled for access to food, water, cash aid and medical testing/care up until this month of May while the numbers of those affected by the virus keeps on swelling daily.
For several months now, series of earthquakes have struck different regions and left many fearing for their lives and property and we are all so afraid that the worst is yet to come. Yesterday, the devastating combination of torrential rains and violent winds made its landfall and is currently hammering Bicol and Samar provinces, damaging over 265,000 hectares of rice and corn lands along its pathway.
2. Many are afraid, fearing for their lives, fearing that their loved ones are among the dead and fearing for their future safety. In the wake of loss and disaster, some struggle to understand how God who is good and loving would allow these things to happen. Some people seem to think that God is the one sending calamities and causing disease. Some think that these events are divine retribution for the sins of humanity. We conveniently point the blame to God. In fact, if you've ever gotten an insurance policy that protects your car, house or commercial space, there's an option one can take to cover your assets from "acts of God." What these refer to are fortuitous events like calamities.
3. God’s original creation was perfect. Before the Fall, Adam possessed sanctifying grace and the preternatural gifts of INTEGRITY (freedom from concupiscence or disordered desires), IMMORTALITY (freedom from dying, decaying or disintegrating), IMPASSIBILITY (freedom from physical evil like pain, sickness and suffering) and INFUSED KNOWLEDGE (freedom from ignorance in matters essential for happiness). Creation was perfectly designed to achieve God’s eternal purpose. Man’s sin thwarted God’s plan, shattered his ideal intent, ruined all of his perfect creation. God does not want it to happen. He did not want Adam to sin. But he allowed it, because that was the only way human beings could have the gift of freedom of choice. After the Fall, creation is broken and as a result these horrible events happen according to laws of nature. Calamities and diseases are results of living in a world that has fallen so far from God’s ideal.
4. Is there a message here for ourselves and the world? A rebellious teen may choose to leave home because he finds the rules too restricting. He may find a cruel world waiting to teach him the harsh realities of life. But the parents do not stop loving their rebellious son or daughter. They do not want them to be hurt, but they can do little to prevent it if the child is determined to go their own way. The parents hope and pray that the difficult realities of the world will bring their child home. Let us learn what we can from the tragedy. While we weep with sadness, let us also listen to the whisper of God. Calamities and pandemics can lead us to be better persons and seek the Lord.
5. In summary, although some think that the calamities and diseases are divine retribution for the sins of humanity, we must understand that they are simply a result of living in a world that has fallen so far from God’s ideal. Sin is turning away from God and his goodness. When man moves farther away from the source of goodness, he experiences evil. So don’t go blaming God the next time some major disaster happens. He had very little to do with it. Instead. use these calamities and pandemic as laboratories to bring out the best in you and lead you back to God.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Amen. <enrique,ofs>
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum