Gustavo García-SillerFebruary 22, 2021
People line up to collect firewood from a wood heap opened to the public Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

The past week had been a tragedy for the state of Texas. Following an unprecedented winter storm, most of the state experienced a catastrophic power outage and a lack of water. All of these forces produced a desperate and dire situation for millions of families.

Reports are beginning to emerge of people who froze to death in their homes and others who died when their residences lost electricity and were unable to use life-saving medical equipment.

Texas saw similar power and infrastructure failures in 1989 and again in 2011 as a result of similar weather events. Notwithstanding these warnings, our leaders at state and local levels failed to prevent this from happening again.

In “Fratelli Tutti,” Pope Francis states: “We cannot be indifferent to suffering; we cannot allow anyone to go through life as an outcast. Instead, we should feel indignant, challenged to emerge from our comfortable isolation and to be changed by our contact with human suffering. That is the meaning of dignity” (No. 68).

This week has brought us all into close contact with human suffering. We are all like the man on the side of the road in the story of the Good Samaritan, beaten and bloody.

This week has brought us all into close contact with human suffering. We are all like the man on the side of the road in the story of the Good Samaritan, beaten and bloody. This week we have all felt isolated and afraid, in addition to the tragedy of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has claimed a staggering half a million lives.

The question is where do we go from here? How do we ensure that everyone on the side of the road is made whole again?

Again, Pope Francis provides guidance: “The decision to include or exclude those lying wounded along the roadside can serve as a criterion for judging every economic, political, social and religious project” (No. 69).

We should move forward in solidarity to ensure that no one is left stranded on the side of the road.

This is not a time for ideological rhetoric. This recovery must be a time of concrete action to ensure that everyone is made whole and that this never happens again.

Money is a tool in life, not an end in itself. The economy is not a measure of human success and flourishing. Money is necessary in our society, this is certain, but too many mistake their bank balance for their personal worth.

This is not a time for ideological rhetoric. This recovery must be a time of concrete action to ensure that everyone is made whole and that this never happens again.

We also cannot place our faith in political and civic authorities only. When we see them falling short, we must call out what is wrong and what can be improved.

We trust in the Lord, and we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and he will lead us through our trials to a deeper relationship with him. He is the one that called us on this journey to begin with! He loves us, and he has given us this Lenten season specifically to walk with us through the conversion of our hearts, our minds, our souls, our relationships and our lives. He also gives us tools to help us along the journey.

Our loving God has given us the sacraments. Go to reconciliation. If you have not been in a while, then this is God’s message to you: The time has come to go to the sacrament of forgiveness and mercy! That is what waits for you in confession. Attend Mass very regularly during Lent—daily if you can. Make the sacrifice of time! Conversion in Christ is supposed to take effort. Reject the false prophet of ease or comfort, and seek the Lord with everything that you are; there is nothing more important you can do in a day.

We also have the great disciplines of Lent we receive from the Gospel: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These are crucial. During Lent, make the time to deepen your prayer every day. It will not happen automatically. Fasting helps us to see the world as it is. Go beyond the fasting and abstinence of Lenten Fridays, and let fasting open your eyes and heart to God’s will.

Fear makes us look inward, but we are called to enlarge and expand our hearts for love, and we have seen countless examples of this in the past several days.

Finally, we have almsgiving. This one is probably the least utilized. In the United States, we have a twisted relationship with money and possessions. Do not be afraid to sacrifice some of the things you would normally buy and give that money to those who have less than you do. Our care for the poor flows out of our love for God; the two are connected. Scripture is filled with this message, and Lent is a time to renew our commitment to the poor and marginalized among us.

With these tools to help us, we will keep our eyes fixed on the Lord during our journey through the wilderness of Lent. Do not be afraid of the challenges because we do not face them alone. God is with us, and the church is with us. We are united as a church, and we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit! May we make this journey together and draw closer to the God who loves us.

This season of Lent is certainly one of penance, but it is also one of joy. Jesus has conquered sin and death, and his victory is our own. Our internal preparations help us to show to the world that this is not all there is.

Fear makes us look inward, but we are called to enlarge and expand our hearts for love, and we have seen countless examples of this in the past several days. We are called to “stretch” beyond ourselves, to serve more and to serve better.

The bishops of Texas are grateful for the outpouring of concern from around the world for all who have been affected by the severe weather conditions. The generosity of Texans who are reaching out to help their neighbors, even while they are also managing their own needs, is truly edifying. Parishes across the state opened their doors as warming centers and provided hot meals and shelter to those who needed it the most. Catholic Charities agencies in dioceses throughout this region did exemplary work in setting up large food distribution events within hours under the most challenging physical conditions.

We ask that all continue to pray with us for those who have died and been injured; for the first responders and utility workers who are going beyond professional expectations; for the restoration of power, water and food supplies; and for those who face the task of rebuilding and repairing their homes and businesses, as well as our damaged churches and parish facilities, even while all are attempting to remain safe from the coronavirus.

More from America: 

The latest from america

“Medieval Peasanting” means reminding myself that there once existed Catholics who couldn’t read or write. They said their prayers and did their best to obey the commandments, and when they failed, they repented.
Simcha FisherJune 21, 2021
The U.S. church isn’t just polarized; it is tired. And it is polarized in part because it is tired.
Pope Francis told the group, “It is important to seek out what is positive at a time when life is not at its most beautiful. Seek the positive in order to keep going forward.”
The pope told the public gathered in St. Peter's Square that he was joining his voice to that of the Asian nation's bishops in also calling for humanitarian corridors.
Associated PressJune 20, 2021