Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti

We're all mourning for the terrible earthquake disaster in Haiti. What devastation for such a poor country. Besides prayers, any material aid sent to reputable organizations to help the people is greatly needed.

Just a word about the statement of Pat Robertson. He said this yesterday:
"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French . . . and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.' True story. And so the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' . . . Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another, desperately poor."
*******

First of all, I doubt this story of a pact with the devil is even true. But even if it were, Robertson's statement is NOT good Christian theology. He's basically saying that the people in Haiti deserved what happened because of some sins they committed.
God doesn't work like that. If he did, why is the United States still standing after having committed around 50 million abortions since Roe v. Wade? God is merciful, slow to anger and rich in kindness, as the Psalm says. God wants to bring us to conversion. When disasters such as this earthquake happens, they are the result of natural forces. The earth's crust is geologically active and earthquakes are a normal result. They don't happen because God is throwing thunderbolts at us in anger.

In the Gospel, some people told Jesus about a tower that fell and killed 18 people. He asked them, "Do you think those people were more guilty than anyone else?" He said no, they weren't. Then he told his listeners to repent. We never know when we might die. Calamaties can remind us of how fragile our life is, and how we need to always live in God's grace.

Going deeper, though, Robertson's remarks show he doesn't understand the mystery of the Cross. Jesus promised "in the world you will have trouble. But take courage, I have overcome the world." He died on the cross, showing us that if we follow him we'll have to suffer too. The paschal mystery is a fundamental mystery. If following Jesus meant we'd never have to suffer, all the world would be Christian--but for the wrong reason. It would be what Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace." It's through the cross that we come to life. The mystery of suffering is a deep mystery and probably the hardest to understand, and we can never really grasp it here. All we can do sometimes is look at the crucifix.

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