We can handle anything

Do we take heed of warnings? It is a mercy that we are often given notice of a tough call coming. From time immemorial people have searched the skies for indications of the weather. Today satellites dance round the globe telling us what is about to happen. They knew a hurricane was coming to Texas. They prepared and prided themselves on the efficacy of their response. “Texas can handle anything,” said President Trump.

Donald Trump

What they do not seem to do is ask why the rainfall was the “worst ever recorded” causing damage that will take $400 billion to repair. This is not the first catastrophe to hit the United States and it is unlikely to be the last. These are warnings of far greater catastrophes to come. The United States can take measures to prevent such events but, officially, they ignore them because taking steps to combat climate change is “bad for jobs.”

Other countries also suffer but cannot call on $400 billion. They do not have the capacity to “handle anything.” They just suffer.

Churchill entitled the last volume of his History of the Second World War, Triumph and TragedyHow the Great Democracies Triumphed, And So Were Able to Resume The Follies Which Had So Nearly Cost Them Their Life. This ironic verdict fits neatly on the shoulders of those who say they can “handle anything.” We can’t handle everything. If we are to survive we have to change our way of thinking.

The hurricane hit a city in Texas called Corpus Christi. This name stops us in our tracks. It is a Latin name given by early Spanish missionaries who may have arrived there on this Catholic feast of the Eucharist, The Body of Christ. To see that body lacerated again, this time by storms, evokes a powerful picture of the One who is with us in all our adversities. The Body of Christ has always been associated with the Eucharist but the Church has widened its meaning to the whole body of the people of God.

Jesus faced the hurricane of Calvary but Matthew tells us Peter advised him to avoid it. He wanted a Jesus who smoothed over the painful choice. The response he got was the hardest, sharpest and among the most authentic of Jesus’ words. “Get behind me Satan!” If we want to save our planet for our children we have to make hard decisions. It was not easy for Jesus to “set his face towards Jerusalem” when he knew what would happen there. Jeremiah (20:9) had an inkling of this when he spoke of a “fire burning in his bones.”

This Sunday we celebrate Care for Creation Day. We can be part of this celebration of creation by caring for our planet and doing all we can – even if it is only thinking about where we dispose of our plastic. We can handle anything but not through hubris and avoiding hard decisions.

3 September 2017                           Sunday 22 A

Jeremiah 20:7-9                                                Romans 12:1-2                                  Matthew 16: 21-27

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