The Fourth Sunday of Easter, 25 April 2010, Year C, St. Jacques le Juste, Petion Ville, Haiti
Today’s reading from the Book of Acts is actually a parable about Haiti. It is a parable that speaks of who we are and what is happening in Haiti right now. I know that might not make sense, but bear with me and you will see: The story of Tabitha is our story.
In Acts, we are told the story of a disciple of Jesus named Tabitha, a woman who did many good works and who cared for those in need. Tabitha took ill, and then she died. As was the tradition in her culture, she had to be buried before sundown. So her family took her body, washed it, laid it out on a table, and then they sent for Peter, who was nearby. Come quickly, they said. Tabitha has died.
Peter came, made everyone leave the room, prayed over Tabitha and then said to her, “Tabitha, get up!”
And she did. She opened her eyes, saw Peter and got up. Because of her resurrection, we are told, many people believed in the Lord.
This story is a parable our own lives right here and right now because it is so similar to everything going on in Haiti. The earthquake came; many died; more were injured. The world saw this and said, “Ah, Haiti is dead.” Many in the world rushed here to help; others gave generously. But still, there was the thought, a thought sometimes said aloud, that Haiti was dead.
I know this. Bishop Duracin has me working in both the United States and Haiti, so I hear what is being said and I read what is being written. There are many who believe that Haiti cannot recover from this tragedy. There are some who say that Haiti should become a commonwealth of the United States. That the government of Haiti should be removed. That the constitution should be rewritten. There are those who claim that Haitians cannot direct the recovery, that “they” know better what needs to happen, that “they” should be in charge.
These people – they don’t know Haiti. They don’t know Haitians.
Because what they are saying is not true! Haiti is not dead!
It is not dead because Haiti and its people are listening to God, to the Good Shepherd who knows them each by name, and whose voice they know. Haitians are paying attention to the one voice that is calling to them.
And what is God, what is the Good Shepherd, saying to us here?
“Haiti, get up!”
• • •
Three weeks ago, the Diocese of Haiti held its Synod, the Synod that had been delayed by the earthquake of Jan. 12. Many of us went – priests, deacons, lay delegates – and at the Synod, we were given a message by Bishop Duracin:
“Haiti, Leve Kanpe Pou Ou Mache!”
“Haiti, Stand Up and Walk!”
Haiti, get up!
And we are getting up and we will get up, because we do listen to the voice of God. Haiti is one of the most God-fearing countries I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been in a lot of countries. Haitians are Christians. They know God. They love God.
So when God says to us here in Haiti, “Get up!” that’s what we need to do.
No matter how hard it seems, no matter the difficulties we encounter.
And yes, there are difficulties.
The Psalmist this morning speaks of walking through the valley of death. That is certainly true here right now. Just look out the door. Look at your own homes, at your own lives. Every single person in this room has lost someone, many of you have lost many people, more of you have lost your homes. You are walking through the valley of death.
But the Psalmist also is clear: We have no need to fear evil, because God is with us.
God is the one who is calling us, who is telling us to get up.
God, the Good Shepherd, the one we all know by name, the one whose voice we have heard before and are hearing now and will hear forever, is speaking to us right now.
Haiti is not dead.
Haiti is alive, and its people are alive, and its faith is alive.
Those of you who are here to help Haiti are here because you, too, hear God calling to you: Get up! God says.
That is our mission now: Not just to get up ourselves, but to help Haiti get up. The Church is leading the way, but we can only do so if we listen to the voice we know best, the voice of the one who loves us.