Lessons from the Thailand Cave Miracle

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 15, 2018

 

The whole world has witnessed a miracle: The rescue of twelve boys on a soccer team and the coach trapped in a flooded mountain cave in northern Thailand for seventeen days. This was the second miracle the whole world has witnessed in the recent past, the first being the miracle on the Hudson River.

A dozen boys aged 11-16 and their 25 year old coach entered the cave on June 23 and were soon reported missing. They were found on July 2, trapped 2.5 miles inside a flooded cave system.

 

Flooding from monsoonal rains, which is what trapped them in the first place, made a rescue seem impossible, and some wondered if the rescue should be put off until the rainy season ended. But that would be months away. So the rescuers went ahead, over a thousand multinational specialists. The world watched and prayed; then four of the boys emerged, followed by a very long interval. Then four more emerged, and then even later the final four and the coach were rescued. So over

a period of three days they were all rescued. Truly a miracle!

As mentioned, over a thousand heroes from around the world were involved in this massive rescue effort, including one man who paid the ultimate price: He died trying to rescue 13 people he never even met. All he knew was that there were 13 people in desperate trouble, and he had to do something.

 

A very moving story, and a very vivid reminder of how much we need God, and how much we need one another. The simple truth is we all need God and we all need one another. The thirteen represent the entire world. Trapped inside a dark box they are blind and unable to make sense of the world. They have no idea if anyone knows where they are, let alone coming to help them. But long before they even had these thoughts, people were searching and preparing and praying.

 

Those thirteen needed help from without, and so do we. Did you notice the spirituality of those thirteen? Most pictures of them in the cave found them with hands folded and praying, and smiling. They seemed deeply spiritual in their Buddhist tradition.

Our condition is terminal. Unless someone sets us free from the bondage of sin which is selfishness, we are all doomed. We simply cannot make it on our own. So many people think they can, but they can’t. Jesus taught us that lesson two centuries ago. We need God and we need others. That’s the first lesson we can learn from the Thai Cave Miracle.

 

The second lesson we can learn is the importance of doing our part. Can you imagine going home from work one day completely unaware that within two hours you would be on your way to Thailand? You go home, have dinner, the phone rings, and within minutes you’re on a plane to Thailand, no planning, no packing, no time to say goodbye. There you are sitting on a plane wondering, “What just happened?”

 

It gives a new twist to the Gospel today: “He instructed to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals, but not a second tunic.”

Are you prepared and are you willing to drop everything at a moment’s notice to go to the aid of people in need, total strangers?

 

Thank God that there are people who are ready, and go when called. These are the people that saved the thirteen.

 

In conclusion, what will we now do with the focus and attention that this incident has generated? Will we retreat back into our world of mediocrity, or will we maintain our vigil, prepared and ready to help anyone at any time the need arises?  Amen.

Fr. Terry Hazel

Sunday Readings

Amos 7:12–15

[Amos said,] “I am a herdsman and a dresser of sycamores, but ...the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’”

Ephesians 1:3–14 or 1:3–10

In him we have redemption by his blood.

Mark 6:7–13

[Jesus said,] “Whatever place does not welcome you...leave there and shake the dust off your feet.”