Excerpt from the homily of Cardinal Seán Brady at Mass in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, for victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and of the War in Syria – 17 November 2013, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
- In today’s Gospel Jesus says that … He will be always with us, no matter how severe the hardships brought about by war and natural catastrophes
- I encourage you to support, as generously as you can, the Church collection being taken up today across Ireland, under the auspices of Trócaire, to aid the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines and the victims of the war in Syria.
- Perhaps you know some Filipino people who would appreciate a message of sympathy and encouragement right now.
The world has been stunned, shocked and saddened by the terrible typhoon which struck the Philippines last weekend. Our thoughts and sympathy went immediately to those who were killed or injured, and to those who lost their homes and had their property destroyed. The families and friends of all those affected have also been very much in our hearts and prayers these days. The loss of so many lives, the injuries suffered by so many people, the destruction of countless homes and livelihoods, has touched the hearts of people all over the world.
In Ireland we thought at once of the Irish missionaries, lay, clerical and religious and of the people whom they serve and for whom they care. We thought of the large Filipino community in Ireland and of the heartbreak and agony which they also are suffering at this time.
Here in Armagh we thought of Father Damien McKenna and of his Columban colleagues. It was a great relief to know that the Columban missionaries were not directly affected by the typhoon but, of course, they too are inevitably distressed and greatly saddened at this time.
Last week I wrote to Archbishop Jose Palma, Archbishop of Manila and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, to express the sympathy of the Catholic people of Ireland. I told him that we were spiritually close to him and to the people of the Philippines at this time of great sorrow and distress. I said that they were constantly in our prayers.
On Wednesday last, at his weekly audience in the Vatican, Pope Francis reminded us that we must unite our strength and our support to prayer in order to more effectively help those in such great need. So I encourage you to support, as generously as you can, the Church collection being taken up today across Ireland, under the auspices of Trócaire, to aid the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines and the victims of the war in Syria.
Thankfully aid is beginning to reach the Philippines. Long may it continue to do so because the need is great. We will all need to remain close to that gentle and long-suffering people and offer all the help we can for some time to come.
Importantly, many are beginning to ask what part global warming may have played in this disaster. While it is impossible to link global warming to any particular event, the question needs to be asked about its overall effect on the world. Inevitably other questions are also asked:
· How could this happen?
· Where is God in all of this?
There is no easy answer to the problem of evil in the world.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says that there will be great earthquakes and plagues and famines here and there. He did not offer any explanation of their causes but he did assure us that He will be always with us, no matter how severe the hardships brought about by war and natural catastrophes.
Today, however, we can be certain that the Spirit of the Lord is present in the courage of the survivors who are valiantly and heroically striving to cope. His Spirit is at work in those aid workers who have rushed to offer the help of their services, and in those who provided the aid. The Spirit of the Risen Lord inspires all who help in any way, those in such dire need.
So particularly, in these days, we keep all those in trouble in our prayers. Perhaps you know some Filipino people who would appreciate a message of sympathy and encouragement right now. The pain of those who are suffering can be made more painful if the rest of the world goes on as usual and nobody appears to notice or care. Conversely, human suffering can be lessened by those who do notice and do their best to help.
- Cardinal Seán Brady is Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland and President of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference
- Donations to Trócaire, the official overseas aid agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland, can be made by telephoning 1850 408 408 (RoI) or 0800 912 1200 (NI & UK) and online on www.trocaire.org.
- Please see a video interview with Mr Éamonn Meehan, Director of Trócaire, who explains the role of the Church’s aid agency in these humanitarian crises, and the related collection for Syria and Philippines which takes place at Masses over this weekend (16 and 17 November). This video is available on www.catholicbishops.ie.
For media contact the Catholic Communication Office, Maynooth: Martin Long 00 353 (0) 86 1727678