A Cross in Haiti

Like so many, I’m following developments in Haiti these last few days, especially the activities of Father Rick Frechette, CP, a member of my community, the Passionists. He’s a medical doctor in charge of a free pediatric hospital, St Damien’s, outside Port-au-Prince, which is still functioning in make-shift conditions after the horrendous earthquake. You can read about him, and donate to his mission, if you wish, here. Major networks, like NBC and ABC, have been covering his story and the hospital where he ministers.

The world is responding to this poorest of countries with sympathy and help. How could it not? An earthquake is such an unexpected tragedy, and this one struck a poverty-stricken land crowded with human beings living in brittle homes that crumbled and crushed thousands of men, women and children.

We ask “Why?” Is the natural world cruel as it is kind? Is its Creator uncaring or distant from all of this, or not there at all?

Faith doesn’t answer our questions, but instead invites us to look at the mystery of the Cross of Jesus as God’s wisdom for times like this. One picture from Haiti yesterday showed a crucifix in the midst of the destruction. A reminder to see Haiti’s  suffering and death with this mystery in mind.

The mystery of the Passion of Christ doesn’t give answers, but it gives comfort and hope. That’s what the great English mystic, Julian of Norwich, says it brings:

“The passion of Christ is a comfort for us. He comforts us readily and kindly and says:All will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.”

Teresa of Avila sees this mystery in the same way.  When Jesus says “Come to me all you who find life burdensome and I will refresh you” he is inviting us to find refreshment in his Passion, she says.

When faced with the mystery of suffering and death, go to the Cross of Jesus, she tells us, and look up into his face. “And he will  forget his own sorrow, turning his face to relieve yours.” He will be our comfort, our refreshment.

Certainly, this is a time to reach out and extend our help in material aid to the poor people of Haiti. But let’s not forget to pray for them, to stand before Cross of Jesus and look into his face, to ask him to see, not us, but them, to care for them, to comfort them, to give them hope.

In many ways Haiti has been a forgotten place in our world. Will this terrible event help us remember this land and its people? The Cross of Jesus is a mystery that brings humanity closer.

“The nearer we come to the cross, the nearer we come to one another.”

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