Biskop Eidsvigs preken i requiemmessen for ofrene etter tyfonen på Filippinene

Fredag 22. november ble Oslo katolske bispedømmes offisielle requiemmesse for ofrene etter tyfonen Haiyan på Filippinene feiret i St. Johannes kirke på Bredtvet. Her er biskop Bernt Eidsvigs preken.

vapen.jpg Your Royal Highness;

Your Excellency, the Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines and the Embassy Staff; the Right Reverend Acting Bishop of the Church of Norway, Anne-May Grasaas; Reverend Fathers;

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The typhoon that first hit the islands Samar and Leyte – and then a few more – in the Philippines two weeks ago has caused thousands of deaths. The world has no memory of a typhoon of such disastrous fury. There are unknown numbers of missing persons. Hundreds of thousands have lost their homes. Statistics claim that 920.000 are directly affected and 12 million indirectly, but what do statistics mean when so many are suffering? All those touched by this disaster will live with deeply disturbing memories of it for the rest of their lives, and worse: The fear that this will happen again.

We are here to mourn and pray for the dead.

We pray today with all those who are still hoping to be reunited with their missing relatives, friends and neighbours. Some of you present are among the bereaved, and some of you are still hoping for missing relatives to be found alive. We are here to share your sorrow and your hope. We cannot promise you much: Our prayers; our helpless words of comfort; we will give generously to the suffering, and we shall listen carefully to what you say to us.

Hope is our most important word this evening. The dead do not suffer. They are in God's hand. They are not punished for reasons unknown to us. Neither are their families. Christ was very clear about this when he asked about the dead and the tower of Silo'am: Those eighteen upon whom the tower in Silo'am fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No (Luke 13, 4 f.).

The mass for the dead, however sad we are, lifts us up because we have faith and know that our life on earth is of limited time. Our life with God, however, is not limited in time. We are sad to be separated from our beloved who died; we are often – as we are tonight – troubled by the circumstances of their death. But we are, in spite of this, full of hope for them. For that reason our sorrow is not of the devastating kind. We know that we will be reunited with them in heaven which is the fatherland of the faithful.

The hope of the survivors is of quite a different kind. We are their hope when we co-operate with God. We can do something for them to make their lot easier. And we do. The Norwegian people and our Government are giving substantial sums of money to the suffering, as people all over the world do. I have been able to watch how the gifts of clothes and food literally have piled up in the parish hall of St. Olav these last two weeks. This does not only amount to compassion and concern, but also – I would like to add – expresses the high regard in which the Philippine community is held in this country. You are contributing to our welfare and our well-being; for our Church you are an example of faithfulness and of Christian courage, and, I would like to add, cheerfulness. We would have been much poorer without you. – And I think the participation in your mourning of our Crown Prince Regent tonight and of our Prime Minister last Sunday speaks for itself and is of great comfort to you.

The typhoon that hit the Philippines was of a hitherto unknown strength. The question has been asked whether this is the bitter fruit of human greed and impatience, that it might not have happened had we used the wealth of our planet with wisdom and moderation? The fear that this might happen again is real, in the Philippines and elsewhere. We owe it to the innocent victims of this typhoon and all man-made disasters to ask our political leaders and those responsible in industry and commerce uncomfortable and challenging questions, and not to rest until responsible and sincere answers have been given. God gave us the earth to have dominion over (Genesis 1, 26) and he holds us accountable for our stewardship.

May the Lord open to them the gates of Paradise,
that they may return to to that homeland,
where there is no death, where eternal joy endures.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.