Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Heart for Haiti

I was in Haiti in 2002, driving through the rubble of the streets of Cite Soleil with a missionary priest named Fr. Tom Hagan (you can read an update of his experiences here). It looked as if an earthquake had already struck the land, and that was almost 8 years ago.
Why Haiti? Why so much sorrow and pain?
Something I can't stop thinking about in my pondering of what's happened is the thought that Haiti is the broken body of Christ. More than a thought, it's the realization that Haiti is the broken body of Christ.
Haiti is like the youngest of Jacob's sons, sold into bondage at the hands of jealous, greedy brothers. Haiti is the Suffering Servant in the Prophet Isaiah, whose back has been whipped in its sad history of slavery, and its beard plucked by the grasping hands of countries stripping its once fertile land of resources. Haiti is "making up for the things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ," in the mysterious words of St. Paul. Haiti is a never-ending Passion Play.
If we believe that God came into our world out of love to take on our sorrows, than we can see God in Haiti. Mother Teresa always said that Jesus is in the distressing disguise of the poor.
God has come into our world, become one of us, become all of us. He doesn't wear humanity over His Divinity like a robe that He casts off in the end. Jesus has married Divinity to humanity forever, world without end! Jesus is in every suffering, He has already suffered and he suffers still in everyone who suffers. Jesus is in Haiti.
At the Hands Together house in Port au Prince, where I stayed a few days with Fr. Tom, one of the most memorable sights was of the tabernacle in his little chapel. At first it caught me off guard. It looked like an old shoe box, or a pile of garbage. But a lamp burned beside it, and a Real Presence was there, in the midst of the slums of Cite Soleil.
Then Father explained, Jesus dwells with his people, and Jesus has become one of his own. So for the poor who live in cardboard homes, reinforced with sheet metal and tin, Jesus has a home of the same material. The Blessed Eucharist is there, in poverty, just as our brothers and sisters, made in God's image, are there in the garbage and in the desolation of the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
Let us pray that Haiti, like Jesus, will return to the Land of the Living, rise from the darkness of the grave, and that we, brothers and sisters throughout the world, will continue to rise up and be present at this tomb. That we lend hearts and hands to this land of brave men and women, suffering souls who have suffered long and hard.
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To view the faces and places (and some rough video)
of my time in Haiti, click here.
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