.- The disastrous earthquake in Haiti shows that this world is a fallen “valley of tears” and is not a particular judgment on the Haitian people, Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Florida wrote on Sunday. He said such a crisis calls to mind both Christ’s crucifixion and the hope-giving nature of His resurrection.
Writing in the Orlando Sentinel, Bishop Wenski noted the devastation and misery produced in Haiti by the “monster earthquake” of Jan. 12. He said Catholics can be tempted to ask what the victims did to deserve their sufferings.
Referring to Jesus’ discussion of the collapse of the tower of Siloam in Luke 13, he commented:
“Jesus warns us not to see these events as somehow the wrath of an angry God. Evil came into the world not by God’s willing it; but through the devil and human sin. Jesus says in the Gospel: Don’t think that those Galileans were the biggest sinners around. Don’t think that those who died in the tower were guiltier than anyone else.”
The tragedies of this “fallen and imperfect” world, since “our exile from Eden,” make our experience a “valley of tears.”
Natural disasters suggest that our planet itself is in “rebellion” against the original order of a loving God.
“And that rebellion seen in nature – from the perspective of faith – can be said to mirror the rebellion of the human heart,” the bishop commented.
Bishop Wenski acknowledged that many times we suffer because of our bad choices and that “the wages of sin is death.” In one way, we experience nature’s rebellion because Adam and Eve’s original sin made all creation “subject to futility.”
“As followers of Jesus we cannot rush to blame victims for the evil visited upon them – nor can we blame God, whom Scripture reveals as all loving and all merciful.
“That doesn’t mean we will come to an easy understanding of why bad things happen to good people – most times we will have to wait with the patience of a Job to learn the answers to those questions – which God will tell us surely; but not necessarily on this side of heaven,” he continued.
The life of Jesus, in whom God became Man, shows that God stands with us in all our suffering.
“Despair, destruction, death will not have the last word: rather the transformative power of his resurrection will define the human project as anchored in hope,” the bishop wrote in the Orlando Sentinel.
Explaining that God can bring good out of evil, Bishop Wenski noted that Central Floridians will join the nation and the world in reaching out to help Haitians. The humanitarian crisis is an opportunity for Americans to show that Haitians are not only neighbors but “our brothers and sisters.”
Recent acts of charity already witness to how God inspires men and women of good will, he said.
“Strengthened in faith, we will not be overcome by any adversity but will overcome evil – whether physical or moral – with good.”