Last week I spent five days in Kathmandu, Nepal in my role as Vice-chair of Caritas Australia. On 25th April, 2015, a major earthquake struck Nepal. About 9000 people were killed and about 23,000 were injured. Australia contributed over four million dollars to the relief. Caritas Australia was chosen to be the main organizer of the relief effort in this one of the poorest countries in the world. There are about 120 Caritas’ in the world. Caritas Ukraine is one of them. About 40 countries contributed to the relief. The Nepal government only two weeks ago gave permission to start rebuilding. The people are desperate. They need water, shelter, and money.

This trip has had a profound impression on me. I witnessed firsthand new understanding of Good Friday and the Resurrection. I saw human nature at its worst and at its best. I had a chance to see how God works in this world and how sinful human nature behaves.

We spent a day on top of a mountain that experienced over 3000 deaths and almost total destruction. We met with over 500 people who are desperate for help.

You may ask why God allowed this to happen. Why is there so much suffering? We ask this same question when we experience our own problems, whether they are physical, financial, social etc. Where is our God? This is definitely our Good Friday experience as it must have been for Nepal. But actually, in Nepal, we did not hear this question. The people there know that earthquakes and other disasters are part of the way the world works. There was one in 1934, 2015, and they are planning for the next one. The Good Friday problem for the people of Nepal is the question – where is the help? The relief? Who will help us get water and housing? The government it seems has forgotten them who will help us/ I was inspired by the Spiritual maturity of the Hindu people. They know the reality of nature and the world. Service to our brothers and sisters is at the very heart of the church. The inability to help one another is the illness of humanity. Charity and social service comes from a church which believes that Christ has risen from the dead. The test of our faith is our ability to see Jesus Christ in all of our brothers and sisters in need, whether they are in Ukraine or Nepal, or elsewhere. This is how we know if we really believe.

The people in Nepal we spoke to have asked for water and shelter. They expect help. They know that they have received this help from Caritas. We were treated as real friends and family. They sang songs, danced dances, wrote poems, and gave speeches of thanksgiving. It was very emotional for me. It was very uplifting. This is where I saw that Christ had risen and was with His people. You can’t condemn earthquakes and the rest of our problems but you can and should expect that those who believe in God will live their faith in such a way as to recognise a neighbour or brother or sister in need and be motivated to help. Not being willing to help is a sign of a dad faith.

During the Easter season we sing “Christ has risen”. Let us make sure that he is “Risen indeed”.

Bishop Peter