These days, central Italy has been shaking, our land proves to be an enemy, a murderer who killed in the night, resulting in a death scenario we have already witness too many times, with piles of rubble ending the lives of many people.
When an earthquake happens, the jolt of the earth reaches our hearts, the roar we hear around us shakes our entire being. As it happens in nature, when the earth opens, we feel an inner laceration, which breaks our usual psychophysical balance and opens a crack in our souls. The experience that leaves a powerful shock, immediately after, for those who remain to tell it later on, is the sense of human impotence before nature, and the first feeling that dominates every other loss, coupled with the realization that everything is secondary to the value of our own lives.
After a catastrophic event, the first images that are transmitted by the media are those where other people’s pain evokes our human weakness, too often forgotten, because megalomania takes over in the apparent tranquility of daily life.
The faces of interviewed people describe emotions that bring us all back to the true meaning of our existence: to see a mayor moved by the disappearance of his village, listening to the experience of the volunteers white with dust, oblivious of their condition, who talk about the people they have extracted from the rubble as if they were “born again”, following the maneuvers of the firefighters as they save children from the clutches of death in the presence of people who partake in their joy and applaud. Everything shows gratuitousness, solidarity, truth, everything vibrates with genuine love.
Apparent weakness is seen in a different way, it becomes a return to essential things, to the strength of things that are truly worthy, but changed by the man in response to logic other than those of the will of God the Creator and Father and of nature. Suddenly, pain and suffering give way to emotions and feelings of redemption, which redefine man in his essence and greatness, because he was created in the image and likeness of God.
But sin, in its multiple manifestations, lurks even in nature and in our interpretations and assessments of the facts, for which, as believers, we cannot exclude spiritual reasons. The Holy Father reminds us: “This sister protests against the evil we are causing it, due to our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods that God has placed in her. We grew up thinking we were its owners and rulers, that we were allowed to plunder it. The violence that exists in the human heart, wounded by sin is also manifested in the symptoms of illness that we experience in soil, water, air and in living things. Hence, among the most abandoned and abused poor people, there is our oppressed and devastated earth, which groans and suffers birth pangs’ (Rom 8:22)”.
There is the Man’s co-responsibility in certain natural disasters. We forget that we are earth ourselves (cfr. 2.7 in January). “Our body and the planet are made of the same elements, its air allows us to breath and its water gives us life and refreshes us” we read in Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter Praised Be, no. 2.
The choice, therefore, is always up to the Man, he is given power to preserve good and holy things, he returns knowing how to discern between what belongs to him as a Gift and what he has modified for the sake of his own convenience and selfish desires, which have nothing to do with the project of God. But if we allow only the “old” Man to act in us, wary of worldly desires, the world will be only able to express what sin is able to do: decline, destruction and death.
“These situations make our sister earth moan, together with the crying of the abandoned of the world, with a lament that demands another route from us, as new men. We never abused and offended our common home as in the last two centuries. Instead, we are called to become the instruments of God the Father, so that our planet may fulfill His dream about it, creating and responding to his project of peace, beauty and fullness,” says the Holy Father.
“The problem is that we do not possess yet the necessary kind of culture to address this crisis and we need to build leaderships that will show us new ways, trying to meet the needs of current generations, including everyone, without compromising future generations. It is essential to create a regulatory system that will contain inviolable limits and ensure the protection of ecosystems, before the new forms of power derived from the techno-economic paradigm end up destroying not only the politics, but also freedom and Justice”, writes Pope Bergoglio (Praised Be, n. 53)
It is time for reconstruction, not only in our lands in central Italy. We must rebuild the heart of the suffering humanity, which is too often forgotten in the name of false priorities. The Man needs to return to the root of hs existence, and learn to recognize God’s suffering for his stubborn people in the “groans of the earth”.
We, believers in the Way, Truth and Life, have a great strength that comes from God. Helping at this time of suffering and devastation means, beyond doing good deeds, interceding through Prayer for peace and serenity in Italy and in the whole world.