By Deacon John De Gano
We are having our house re-roofed. The wood shakes are showing their age (close to 40 years old) and we noticed a few leaks after the last rain and, while the timing may not be what we would have liked (COVID-19), we are managing to work from home beneath the rumblings of heavy footsteps, the melodic sounds of compressors, nail guns and accumulated dust and debris.
Our adventure began simply enough with a trip to the local home improvement store to buy a couple of garage door springs to replace one that had failed. To our surprise they no longer sell the type of spring we used and that led to a decision to forsake our heavy wooden doors for lighter metal roll-up ones.
We had scarcely placed our order for this when we decided to go ahead with our plan to get estimates for a new roof. One of the roofers said if they could begin the next day they would be able to reduce the costs by up to a third because they were already working on another house in our area and could keep their people busy between the two homes. And, so, we found ourselves hiring them.
Our plans also included having a termite inspection and so we figured we would get it all taken care of at the same time.
‘Man plans. God laughs.’ Seems very apropos here.
The chronology of the repairs did not happen as hoped.
We needed to clean out the garage for the garage door installers. We had to have the roof removed. The termite guy was not able to inspect every niche and cranny because of the chaos and we learned that we needed to have repairs to fascia, as well as a new coat of fresh paint.
Any one of these projects would have been cause for stress. Taken together and we had the makings of a perfect storm. And a chance of rain was expected to arrive within the next ten days.
I began to think of Noah, his faithfulness to God and what happened to the those who refused to heed God’s word, were blindsided when the floods came and perished.
Could our nation be at such a juncture? Are the Days of Noah here? Are we ready for the Lord’s return?
A simple review of the times gives us reason for concern.
We have different needs and voices vying for our attention. The added stress comes from this being an election year (and a rather polarizing and contentious one at that!).
We have been told that participation in our governance is not only a virtue but the U.S. Bishops tell us it is a moral obligation and yet we speak of boycotting the election because it is ‘too hard’ to choose or we don’t ‘like’ the candidates, etc. (even though our Church teachings tell us we need to seek out and serve the common good for all and treat one another with dignity and respect).
Many have the mistaken belief that ‘it’s okay’ (even noble) to be selfish, greedy and/or to deny basic human rights to others, particularly the widows and orphans, and the stranger in our land. It’s certainly not Biblical and Jesus never endorsed it as a plank in his “party platform.”
These are the very issues that the prophets of old (and not a few modern ones, including Pope Francis) warned us against as signs of our refusing to heed God’s commandments, to love God and neighbor, and to be brother and sister to one another – without allowing the political or partisan posturing that tears apart a community – to come between us and our God.
Clearly, we have a lot of work to do to get our house in order (if we want to welcome Jesus when he returns). We need to have a plan. A plan that includes praying for God’s help to heal the divisions within our community of faith and asking for forgiveness for sins that have led us astray.
The rains are coming and before we get swept away, let us turn back to the Lord, the Master Carpenter. Perhaps he will restore our house into a home again. Where all are welcome. Are fed. And find hope.
And God’s abiding peace may rest upon us once again, human ‘tents’ built of flesh and bone.
John De Gano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria parish in Riverside.