Pray for Nepal, flex your ‘compassion muscles’

Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief agency and member of Caritas Internationalis, has been training people in Nepal in earthquake-resistant construction to help them rebuild in an effective way and to help them get jobs. (Photo courtesy CRS/Jennifer Hardy)

Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ overseas relief agency and member of Caritas Internationalis, has been training people in Nepal in earthquake-resistant construction to help them rebuild in an effective way and to help them get jobs.
(Photo courtesy CRS/Jennifer Hardy)

By Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle*

KATHMANDU — As I traveled from Kathmandu airport this morning I saw areas affected by last year’s earthquake. I’m in Nepal for the Caritas solidarity conference to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the disaster. As I looked at the countryside, I could almost see the wounds of our Mother Earth.

Cardinal Tagle is welcomed by the staff of Caritas Nepal. (Photo courtesy Michelle Hough, Caritas Internationalis)

Cardinal Tagle is welcomed by the staff of Caritas Nepal. (Photo courtesy Michelle Hough, Caritas Internationalis)

I’ve joined Caritas organizations working on the Nepal emergency in one of the earthquake-affected areas outside the capital. We are here to fill ourselves with courage and knowledge regarding how to best accompany the Nepalese people as they forge their future.

We are also here remember the wounds of our brothers and sisters who survived the earthquake and who now have to rebuild their lives. The risk is, if you forget the wounds inflicted -– on others and on the Earth — you may inflict other injuries.

It’s easy to forget or even ignore the disasters which are the scourge of many countries.  Nepal, Japan and now Ecuador -– these are just some countries hit by recent earthquakes, but there have been many more disasters. When was the last time you thought about the people of Haiti?

We should never tire of seeing the face of Christ in all of the victims of these disasters. This is a challenge, but Pope Francis has given us the opportunity to pump up our “compassion muscles” this year by asking us to focus on mercy. True mercy has no geographical or spiritual boundaries.

Communities here in Nepal are resilient and are trying to rebuild their lives and revive their dreams, but they cannot do it without our help.

Nepalese resident Bal Bahadur Budathoki Chetri, 97, flanked by his grandchildren answers Caritas questions April 8. His house was destroyed during the 2015 earthquake. (Photo courtesy of Matthieu Alexandre, Caritas Internationalis)

Nepalese resident Bal Bahadur Budathoki Chetri, 97, flanked by his grandchildren answers Caritas questions April 8.
His house was destroyed during the 2015 earthquake. (Photo courtesy of Matthieu Alexandre, Caritas Internationalis)

Caritas is love in action and love without borders. We are here in Nepal not just to help rebuild homes and schools, help people get back to work or to ensure their water supply is repaired. We are here to offer hope.

With Nepal we have seen people offering support from all parts of the world. We pray this will continue. We pray that that we will never tire of recognizing and appreciating the signs and wonder that God accomplishes through our small acts of mercy and love so that each new disaster will launch a new wave of solidarity and compassion. Most of all, on this special day of commemoration, we pray for the people of Nepal.

Cardinal Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, is president of Caritas Internationalis.

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