‘WHY DON’T YOU BREAK YOUR RULES?’ (Mt 5:17-19): 27 February 2008 (Wednesday)
I still remember that afternoon in June 1991 when I stepped out of the library and was greeted by a darkened sky. It was too early for sunset. It turned out that the eruption of Mount Pinatubo had injected tons of volcanic ash into the sky, creating a thick haze over the city.
In the next few days we learned of the death and destruction caused not only by the eruption and the ash fall, but also by–of all things–the arrival of a typhoon. As we know, those events of 1991 drastically changed the landscape of Pampanga and the lives of its people.
In today’s gospel reading, the Lord talks about how he has come not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. He tells his disciples:
“Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.”
He was of course referring to the Jewish laws, but he could very well be referring to the laws of nature that govern our world and our lives. Ours is an all-powerful God, but one who usually refuses to break the natural laws that he has created.
The question I’d like to ask him today is: “Why don’t you break your rules once in a while?” I mean, it won’t hurt to suspend the laws of nature occasionally. In fact, ithurts not to do so, as we can see in catastrophes like the eruption of Mount Pinatubo and all the other natural disasters that he could have prevented.
Let’s talk about the vastly destructive tsunami of December 2004, which devastated villages and towns along the coast of the Indian Ocean and killed over 200,000 people. According to an article I read somewhere, this major natural disaster, which was caused by a non-volcanic earthquake, has left a lasting impact on the entire planet far beyond all the visible wreckage.
Based on a study done by Dr. Benjamin Fong Chao of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Dr. Richard Gross of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the massive earthquake that caused the tsunami changed the planet earth itself: It moved the North Pole about an inch toward Guam in the Pacific Ocean. The earth became a little bit rounder since a certain amount of mass was shoved toward the center of the planet. Finally, this change in the earth’s shape has also shortened the day because it has increased the speed of earth’s rotation and as a result, shortening the 24-hour day by 2.8 microseconds. In other words, a single day on earth has become shorter. Obviously, these changes are not perceptible to us at all, but scientists tell us that they are far from insignificant.
The earthquakes that created the tsunamis result from occasional shifts in the earth’s tectonic plates. During that last major earthquake, the shift was quite substantial: One region of the sea floor near the quake’s epicenter dropped as much as 66 feet, while another region moved horizontally as far as 36 feet. No wonder it such massively destructive waves were generated!
What I find most intriguing about all this is that these tectonic shifts are so natural and common in our world, but they are unique to this one planet Earth. These so-called natural phenomena are found only in our planet. They are by no means natural or common in any other planet in the solar system. Mars, for example, has no tectonic plates and, therefore, no earthquakes. From all evidences, Mars is a cold, airless, lifeless planet.
It seems that earthquakes are a necessary part of an entire system that makes life possible. It is hardly any coincidence that the only planet in the Solar System that experiences tectonic activities, earthquakes, and tsunamis, is also the only planet that is known to support life. Earthquakes and all its deadly consequences are part of an elaborate tectonic system that allows our planet to recycle carbon, which is essential to life. As the article puts it, “the long fruitful existence of a biosphere may require that a planet be dynamic—and sometimes tragically violent.”
It would seem then that beyond our understanding, there is always a hidden good written in every law our Lord has created. That’s probably why even if we sometimes wish otherwise, the Lord insists on not breaking his rules.
Here’s a Quick Question for you: “If there is one rule or law of nature that you wish God would suspend, what would that be and why?” Think about it, and share a thought, a feeling, or a question.
(image: from frjessie.wordpress.com)