Sunday, February 19, 2006

For the Landslide Victims

We pause from dwelling on our mundane problems and pray for the victims of the landslide that occurred last Friday at St. Bernard in Guinsaugon, Southern Leyte.

This landslide buried an estimated 1,400 people following the collapse of a side of a mountain. Rescue efforts have been made difficult because of rains. The village, now erased from the map and covered in deep mud, is like quicksand, making it useless for even the most high-tech equipment sent by our friends from other governments to save lives. They are recovering bodies at a very slow pace. The dead cannot all be identified at once because there were half-bodies recovered from the site. Hope has become dim that rescuers would find survivors.

It is depressing news, but one that Filipinos have been exposed to. This is not the first landslide to occur in recent history.
There are those who have blamed the government for neglecting landslide precautions.

During tragedies like this, we link arms and send what we can offer through the different foundations and volunteer groups that collect donations and distribute them to the evacuees. Foreign aid always comes pouring in. The spirit of volunteerism that is shown is inspiring.

But a voice inside us cries out, asking once more how we can prevent disasters from happening. We are a country and a people knocked down by opponents such as poverty and corruption. We are resilient, true, and we get by from the worst blows through our sense of humor, but on dark days like this we do not find anything to laugh about.

Last Friday, we read, "For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead (
James 2:26)".

We grieve, but we stand up and believe again. May our prayers be translated into action. May our actions, in turn, be motivated by faith. Finger-pointing has long been proven ineffective in preventing and even mitigating disaster.

If we will open our eyes, the Lord can do something new in us (Isaiah 43:19a). He can erase our past that has paralyzed us and then bring us into genuine conversion and healing, just as he healed the paralytic in today's Gospel.

And so we kneel down and pray and ask what are we being called to do in the face of such frequent tragedies around us. We ask the Lord to enlarge our hearts, open our eyes, and give us the wings of courage to become that which we were meant to be in order to make this world a better place to live in.

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