Hurricane Michael is a graphic image of the storm that has ravaged the Church this past summer. Catholics in Los Angeles might be wondering, with every subtle drop of rain, if the storm clouds are gearing up for yet another fit of rage.
Many people in the Church and outside of it have offered their advice. Some have suggested we run for cover, find a secure building, because the storm is here for the long haul. Others have suggested grabbing an umbrella and staying away from tall metal objects because the storm will be passing soon.
But while we keep busy watching the chaos in the sky, we may not be noticing the earthquake shaking the ground below our feet. Isn’t it the ground, after all, that provides shelter from the storm?
Things change when we look at the current crisis as part of a long history, like that of the people of Israel, rather than just a series of passing storms.
When it comes to the history of salvation as told in the Bible, we know— or at least we think we know— how the story begins and ends, but what about all that stuff in the middle? We are not just asking about the cross and resurrection, but the things concerning Israel's Messiah, Jesus Davidic lineage and all the bits about a kingdom on earth as in heaven? In other words, what's all the stuff in the middle of the story?
All those questions, and many like them, push us all the way to the edge, to look out at the entire story of the biblical narrative, to see how the story unfolds.
As a 29-year-old “millennial,” I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking about the reasons why virtually all my Catholic friends that I grew up with here in LA have left the practice of the faith.
There are many reasons, to be sure. As the storm clouds cast darker and darker shadows, we could do worse than look and long for the new dawn in the story of the Bible, giving us a kind of crack in the sky with fresh light coming in, for our way forward—as our only way forward. Might we even, as providence would have it, have guessed that the story of the storm was part of 'the way out' all along: exile before entrance; judgment before mercy; Babylon before Persia.
This fresh light is nothing else but a fresh reading and rereading of the story of Israel, Israel's God, and Israel's long-awaited Messiah.
It's in that story that we'll find out something quite interesting: That these storm formations are all too familiar to God's people. These are the same kind of weather patterns that have appeared many times before, not least during those dark and gloomy days following Jesus' death.
As Bishop Robert Barron reminded us in a talk given last year, those were some somber three days for the disciples of Jesus leading up and into their encounter with the Risen Lord on the road to Emmaus. While they were looking to find, like Catholic Angelenos today, their shelter from the rain, Jesus asked them to get up, rub their eyes, sip a cup of coffee, wash their faces, and read the whole story once more. Then and only then, will the cracks on the ground will become chasms of light in the sky.
Christopher Plance teaches theology and history at St. Monica Academy in Los Angeles. He attended graduate school at Franciscan University, where he received his MA in Theology. He currently lives in the San Fernando Valley with his wife and three children.
Start your day with Always Forward, our award-winning e-newsletter. Get this smart, handpicked selection of the day’s top news, analysis and opinion, delivered to your inbox. Sign up absolutely free today!