The Good Friday problem in Nepal
13 May 2016 | Blog | Emergency Relief | Nepal
In April, Bishop Peter Stasiuk visited Nepal as part of a global Caritas confederation event to mark the one year anniversary of the devastating 2015 Nepal earthquakes. After meeting communities in Nepal affected by the disaster, he reflects on the ‘Good Friday problem’ in our world today.
By Bishop Peter Stasiuk (CSsR DD), Vice-chair of Caritas Australia
Last week I spent five days in Kathmandu, Nepal in my role as Vice-chair of Caritas Australia. On 25th April 2015, a major earthquake struck Nepal. About 9,000 people were killed and about 23,000 were injured. The Australian community contributed over four million dollars to the international Caritas relief response, Caritas Australia was invited by the global Caritas network to be the facilitator of the relief effort in Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world.
This trip left a profound impression on me. I witnessed firsthand a new understanding of Good Friday and the Resurrection. I saw human nature at its worst and at its best. I had a chance to see how God works in this world.
We spent a day on top of a mountain that experienced more than 3,000 deaths and almost total destruction. We met with more than 500 people who are desperate for help.
You may ask why God allowed this to happen - why is there so much suffering? We ask this same question when we experience our own problems, whether they are physical, financial, or social: where is our God? This is definitely our Good Friday experience. We would imagine the earthquake must have been the same kind of experience for the people of Nepal. But actually we did not hear this question in Nepal. The people there know that earthquakes and other disasters are part of the way the world works. There was a major earthquake in 1934, another in 2015, and they know there will be another one in the future.
The Good Friday problem for the people of Nepal is the question: where is the help? The relief? Who will help us get water and housing? The people of Nepal know the reality of nature and the world. They know that the inability to help one another is the illness of humanity. Some people feel they have been forgotten.
But the Church has not forgotten them. Charity and social service are the heart of the Church, which believes that Christ has risen from the dead. The test of our faith is our ability to see Jesus Christ in all of our brothers and sisters in need, wherever they are. This is how we know if we really believe.
The people in Nepal we spoke to have asked for water and shelter, and they have received this help from Caritas. We were treated as real friends and family. They sang songs, danced dances, wrote poems, and gave speeches of thanksgiving. It was very emotional for me; it was uplifting. This is where I saw that Christ had risen and was with His people.
You can’t condemn earthquakes and the rest of our problems, but you can and should expect that those who believe in God will live their faith in such a way as to recognise a neighbour in need and be motivated to help. Not being willing to help is a sign of a lack of faith. It is the resurrected Christ in all of us that helps us recognise all our brothers and sisters in need, and that moves us to act with love and compassion.
Learn more about the Nepal Earthquake response
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