Today is the second Sunday in Ordinary Time, but if you’ve been paying attention to the news this week, you know that it is no ordinary time.
Nothing about this week has felt ordinary. When I open my laptop and pull up the New York Times or the Huffington Post, I am assaulted by photos of collapsed buildings with limbs sticking out from under the rubble, bodies being removed from the streets by bulldozers, and the dead – the many, many pictures of the dead. I want to make it stop but I allow the assault to continue because I know that it is infinitely more painful for those who are there, who don’t have the luxury of closing their computer to make the image go away. And so it is that I allow my heart to be broken, and my mind to be haunted by these images.
I wasn’t planning on writing about Haiti when I sat down to compose this post. I closed the news sites on my browser and pulled up this week’s readings and tried to read them with no agenda, no preconceived ideas about what I should be writing about. But I didn’t get very far before the images of the earthquake that ravaged Port-au-Prince slid back into the forefront of my consciousness. “No more shall people call you ‘Forsaken,’ or your land ‘Desolate,’” the first reading, from the book of Isaiah, sang to me, and I could not help but to associate these words with Haiti, and with President Obama’s assurance to the people of Haiti that they “will not be forsaken.”
And then there was the second reading, ordinarily one of my favorites: I Corinthians, the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We each have different gifts, different callings, the letter states, all stemming from the same God but manifesting in a variety of ways. And yet upon reading it this time, my mind balked at the idea. In this far-from-ordinary time, I am seized by the conviction that we are all, each and every one of us, called to do the same thing – to give what we can, whatever we can, to aid the people of Haiti. Because sometimes the situation requires that we abandon our ordinary routine, our plans, our default mode, and step up to do what we are able. This is what the Gospel reading – the story of the wedding at Cana – said to me as I read it, no longer trying to push Haiti out of my mind. Coming to the aid of the servers was not on Jesus’ agenda the night of the wedding, but his mother called him out when he resisted her request to help them. You must help them, I heard Mary telling her son, because you can. You are in a position to help someone in need, and therefore it is your duty to do so.
And it is with this idea in mind – that if you are in a position to help someone in need, you are called to help them – that I propose the following: if you are reading this post right now, you are in a position – you are called – to help the relief efforts in Haiti. Please take a moment to think about what you can afford to give – no donation amount is too small. If you have already donated, think again, as I am going to do, about whether you can manage to make one more donation, as the need for medical supplies, food, clean water, and equipment continues to rise.
There are many organizations that need your help. Partners in Health has a clinic not far from Port au Prince that has injured people pouring in to be treated and is in urgent need of replenishing supplies – you can donate to their efforts here. You can donate to Oxfam America here, to Catholic Relief Services here, or to the Jesuit Refugee Service here. Additionally, the Huffington Post has compiled a list of text-to-give options that allow you to make a donation to one of several organizations via text message.
This is not an ordinary time. The situation in Haiti demands of us an extraordinary response. I hope that you will join me in answering the call to help.
Photo: A mountain outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, taken in 2003 by Kate Henley Averett
Kate Henley Averett travelled to Haiti in June of 2003 to volunteer with The Haitian Project. Her heart is broken by the unimaginable tragedy of this earthquake.