Young soccer players, a flooded cave, and God’s Plan!
Some years ago, Thomas Merton, a Trappist Monk, shared this insight: The pleasure of a good act is something to be remembered, not to feed our complacency, but to remind us that virtuous actions are not only possible and valuable, but they can become easier, more delightful and more forceful than any acts of vice which often frustrates them.
Thomas Merton’s words came alive recently in the precarious lives of twelve young Thai soccer players and their coach perilously stranded in a flooded cave. Amazed and delighted, we watched fellow Thais and a team of multinational strangers work together to devise ways to save these frightened boys.
No one noted nationality, race, gender, culture or religion. They only saw young, terrified boys and one adult, alone in a dark cave, far from the warmth, safety, and love of their families. These international Good Samaritans had only one desire – to rescue those trapped and bring them securely home to the arms of their loved ones. It is a tender-hearted purpose we can all understand.
Without counting the cost to themselves, they were willing to try whatever they could to free these trapped young athletes. The pleasure of a good act is something to be remembered …to remind us that virtuous actions are not only possible and valuable …but are more forceful than any acts of vice…
Merton’s words are so true. What happened in Thailand these few weeks are profound lessons for all. Jesus might describe this situation as loving God and loving our neighbors. Then later add, when we do, we show our love for Him.
In Second Corinthians, St. Paul may attribute it all to Jesus with these words: My grace is sufficient for you for power is made perfect in weakness. (12:9) When we put all these words together, the rescue of these boys shows how we are asked to love God, and, equally as important, to love and help our neighbors.
Let me explain. Christ promises to fill our weakness with His strength, but how He does this He never revealed. However, the events in that flood drenched cave show us how! Christ’s strength arises from the gifts and talents of the rescue workers by sharing their skills to rescue the distressed boys.
Where did these divers get their talents and gifts if not from God their creator? God gives us gifts for moments like these, for when some need gifts that others have. At that point, the Holy Spirit prompts those that have--to risk, reach out and help. It’s all in the mystery of God’s plan.
Therefore, Jesus asks each of us not to hoard our treasures in barns but store them in heaven.
The storing in heaven happens spontaneously. When Navy Seals help trapped soccer players in a flooded cave or we reach out to someone in distress near us, these stored heavenly gifts are repaid “a hundredfold.” And as a result, that promised strength of Christ fills in the weakness where needed
God does have a plan. God fixes the situation or sends others to do it for Him. It is wonderful when it ends happily as with the young soccer players. Yet, what truly matters as well, is that personal talents were shared where needed. For Jesus, sharing our gifts and talents is always the successful ending He seeks.
When we respond, we build God’s kingdom on earth such as the happily reunited Thai families. And as Merton says: this goodness reminds the world… that virtuous actions are not only possible and valuable…but are more forceful than any acts of vice…”. Jesus smiling gratefully for our assistance.
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Blessings, Fr. DeLillio