Posted: September 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

Over the last several years we can remember many times of disaster – Hurricane Katrina, The 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Sandy, the Boston Marathon bombings and most recently, Hurricane Harvey.  These disasters, some natural and some man-made, resulted in death, destruction and chaos.  But amid the tragedies and loss can be found stories of heroism, rescue and hope.

We have all seen the television coverage of Hurricane Harvey this past week.  The Coast Guard and the regular military have done more than 16,000 rescues in Houston since Harvey hit. Other uniformed first responders, including helpers from the FDNY and NYPD, have saved many more. But plenty of regular citizens have added to the heroism.

  • The “Cajun Navy,” a group of recreational boat owners and volunteers who helped the rescue effort after last year’s Louisiana flood, mobilized again.
  •  So did countless individual boaters (and jet-skiers) in Texas. Asked on-camera by a reporter what he was going to do with his boat, one Texas City man replied: “Go try to save some lives.”
  •  When 78-year-old J.C. Spencer and his wife, Karen, realized they needed to evacuate their home, they called their local Chick-fil-A, where they’re regulars, to order two grilled chicken burritos with extra egg — and a boat. “The manager said that she would send her husband, who has a boat, and she did,” J.C. said. But when the boat couldn’t get into the house, “two wonderful men” came up on jet skis and rescued them. They’re still waiting on the food, though.
  •  Amanda Labove has been a one-woman call center, dispatching complete strangers to Orange and other small towns along the Texas-Louisiana border. By 1 p.m. Wednesday, volunteers had picked up 500 people in Orange alone. “I just showed up early this morning and started taking calls, sending people where they needed to be and doing the best I can,” Labove said.
  •  Countless good Samaritans have been pictured saving animals, getting them in boats, off the tops of cars and houses, freeing horses trapped in cages.
  •  A chain of Houston mattress stores opened up its locations to serve as makeshift shelters. Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale on Tuesday said one of his stores was supporting 360 people and another 400.
  •  Anheuser-Busch stopped beer-making and started canning clean emergency drinking water, delivering over three truckloads — over 155,000 cans — to the Gulf Coast area.
  •  On Tuesday, an unidentified man dressed up as Spider-Man to give out toys and stickers to children taking shelter at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center. The day before, Batman showed up with his 4-year-old son, “Little Batman,” to hand out clothes and supplies.

After 9/11, Mister Rogers came out of retirement to offer words of comfort.   InRogers the bleakest depths of a disaster, he noted, average people step up alongside emergency responders to become heroes. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, regular Americans are once again proving him right.

Jesus told this parable: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.   So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”  That challenge still holds true for us.

In the words of St. Augustine, “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”  To help in times of tragedy is to love others as Jesus would have us do.  We also show our love by standing up to and speaking out against hatred and intolerance.  As we were each asked during our baptism, “Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?”  The answer is still “yes, I do.”

 In Romans, chapter 12, the Bible gives us some basic instructions as Christians – “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.   Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.   Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Choose to be a helper.


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