(CNS) -- As wildfires raged near Los Angeles, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez called on
those who have lost their homes and those offering assistance and fighting the flames
to remember that God is accompanying them in their sorrow and acts of sacrifice.
there in all these stories of sharing and self-sacrifice, in all those who are opening
their homes to strangers, in all those who are risking their lives to save
others," the archbishop wrote Dec. 12 in Angelus, the archdiocesan online news magazine.
Lord is there in the outpouring of donations and in all of the volunteers
serving selflessly in our Catholic Charities and St. Vincent de Paul
Society," he wrote.
Gomez called on people to hear God whispering in the wake of the fires, as
recounted in the Book of Elijah: "After the fire there was a tiny whispering
is speaking in every moment, in every circumstance. But sometimes he speaks in
a whisper. He asks us to listen, to have ears," he wrote.
he is telling us in these situations is that life is precious, but it is also
uncertain and fragile. We should live for God every day and cherish every
minute and not take anyone or anything in our lives for granted."
continued to burn out of control, with the largest being the fast-moving Thomas
fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties northwest of Los Angeles. Officials
said the wind-whipped flames were about 30 percent contained late Dec. 13, but continued
to rapidly advance toward the Pacific Coast.
fire had burned more than 238,000 acres, claiming one life and destroying more
than 900 homes since it began Dec. 4 near Thomas Aquinas College in Santa
Paula. Smaller fires burned east and south of the city.
Gomez commended the work of individuals who have reached out to the families and
small business owners who lost their homes and possessions, escaping with little
more than the clothes they were wearing.
question the presence of God when natural disasters occur, he admitted.
always need to respect the pain of others; we have no idea what they are going
through. And we need to remember: There is probably no greater challenge to
faith than trying to keep believing in God's love when it seems that he has
left you and allowed you to suffer," the archbishop wrote.
hard truth is that there are no easy answers. But that does not mean that the
Lord is not in the fire. God
is everywhere. Jesus said a sparrow does not fall from the sky in God's creation
without God knowing about it and caring about it."
concluded the column by offering prayers for suffering families that they would
"hear the tiny whispering voice of God in these days after the fire."
expected to keep red flag warnings throughout Southern California through much
of December as desert winds continued to sweep toward the ocean, keeping
much-needed winter rains far at sea.
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The full text of Archbishop Gomez's column is online at http://bit.ly/2AZgzV0.