Black Saturday - February 2009
Where was God on Black Saturday? (by Margaret Claver Hayes fcJ)
In the first book of Kings we read that Elijah, fleeing for his life to Mount Horeb, was told to wait for God to pass by. We recall that first there was a ‘wild wind which rent the mountains and broke the rocks… but God was not in the wind … After the storm, an earthquake…but God was not in the earthquake. After [that]… a fire, but God was not in the fire’. After that came ‘the murmur of a gentle breeze’ . (1Kgs 19: 11–13).
It was then that Elijah, covering his face, came to the entrance of the cave and heard God speaking to him by name.
But where was God on Black Saturday in Victoria in February 2009?
In the hearts of those who heard the horrific roar of the ferocious fire racing to consume them, was it Jesus in agony again, sweating profusely in extreme fear of imminent death?
‘Greater love than this no man has than to lay down his life for His friends’ (Jn 15: 13).
How many died doing just that, as they tried to save family, friends and strangers! Are they ‘Jesus’ people? Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. Does Jesus still weep in and with all those who mourn? When the ACT firefighter fell and died under the weight of a falling tree, was it the Christ falling under the wooden cross on his way to Calvary to save others? In the tears and cries of anguish of the survivors of that terrible day and horrific night, did we hear Jesus on the cross crying out once more, ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken me’ (Mt 27: 46)?
In the fear, terror, pain, loss and grief, where was God? The last words of Matthew’s Gospel give us Jesus’ final message: ‘I am with you always till the end of the world’ (Mt 28: 20). Did the Christ die 210 times on those fatal days? And Mary, our Mother, whom we so often ask to pray for us, where was she? ‘Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother’ (Jn 19: 25). What Spirit moved the hearts of so many to respond to this unspeakable sorrow in an incredible outpouring of love, compassion, generosity and unrelenting selfless service? Is this our God gazing in compassion on the world entrusted to us?
‘God loved the world so much, He gave us his only Son’ (Jn 3: 16).