It’s Friday evening in Rockville Centre, New York. The place – the East Coast of America is bracing itself for Hurricane Irene. I took this photo about two hours ago. It’s a petrol station on the corner and its message is simple – there’s no petrol left. Apart from that the sun is shining, there’s a warm and gentle breeze in the air and nothing to indicate the expected arrival in a few hours time of the worst storm to hit this part of the country in nearly sixty years. The television channels are full of warnings, the mayors of all the local towns and of New York are giving press conferences, telling people to get out of their homes. It’s mandatory, in some areas, that this will happen. All trains, buses and subways come to a standstill from noon on Saturday.
“NO GAS” – the handwritten sign tells those who might plan on stopping for a fill-up that there is no point. Too many have done it before you and now the fuel is gone. It’s a sign that belies the stillness around it. The Mayor of New York told people today not to be fooled by the sun or the beauty of the day – it is, he told them “the calm before the storm”. It’s so hard to believe that and yet it’s obviously the case.
Is there something of this in our Gospel Passage this weekend when all seems to be going well and Jesus tells his disciples that he’s about to be handed over to the authorities, to suffer and die? How difficult it was for the apostles to take this in. The calm before the storm ….