Luke 11: 42-46 The Light of Life
This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other. You must keep his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you today (Dt. 4:39).
It is impossible to mediate on this passage without making reference to the historical event that is taking place, right before our very eyes, in Chile. Thanks to modern technology, we are able to witness the extraordinary rescue of miners, the human spirit of ingenuity, and the grace of God.
“Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life” (Jn 8:12). This is the responsorial psalm of the day, and how appropriate it is. Last night I had the opportunity to spend the evening with a wonderful family and to watch the first Chilean miner to be rescued after 69 days in the depths of a mine that easily could have become their tomb. The tragedy began when over 700,000 tons of rock collapsed on August 5th sealing 33 men in the lower reaches of the mine. Florencio Avalos, 31, was the first man to emerge on the surface and to breathe his first fresh air after a twenty minute ascent of around 2,050 feet. Family and friends clapped and broke into cheer. His 7-year-old son was present along with his wife and President Sebastian Pinera who told the happy miner, “Very few times have I ever seen a son show so much love for his father.”
Mario Sepulveda, the second man to be rescued, told reporters he had spent the last ten weeks “between God and the devil.” “They fought, God won,” he added.
The ninth man to be rescued early this morning, Mario Gomez, 65, the oldest in the group immediately knelt down in prayer. During their horrific ordeal, the miners continually asked for prayers so that their spirits would not fail them. Their prayers were answered in a way very few ever imagined. They are the only miners to ever survive for so long and at such depths.
It will take about 36 hours for the 33 miners to be rescued. Two rescue experts were lowered late last night in order to help the men prepare for the ascent and to determine the order of rescue. Prior to his descent, Manuel Gonzalez grinned and made the sign of the cross as he was lowered to the trapped men. He told the crowd gathered around the man made hole that “We made a promise to never surrender, and we kept it.” Jesus had to descend in order for us to ascend. For someone to be saved, a good man, a holy man must volunteer to lay down his life for another.
The last miner out has been decided. Shift foreman Luis Urzua, whose leadership was recognized for helping the men endure the first seventeen days with no outside contact after the collapse. The men made 48 hours’ worth of rations last before rescuers reached them with a narrow borehole to send down more food.
Let us continue to pray for all the miners and their families. The rescue will not be a success until all the men are safe.
What the world needs badly is good news! Christ is the Good News! My hope is that as the weeks pass and the miners have a chance to share their stories of survival with family and friends, the truth of man’s faith in God’s love will inspire a generation of men and women in renewing their faith and love for the one true Lord of man and history.
The Lord said, Woe to you, Pharisees…you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. One of the few Americans on site stated the risks involved in the rescue operation. So many things can go wrong. He insisted that we should all “knock on wood that this luck holds out for the next 33 hours.”
I prefer to do what the President of the United States recommended, “While the rescue is far from over and difficult work remains, we pray that by God’s grace, the miners will be able to emerge safely and return to their families soon.” Now that is a welcomed sign of true leadership.