Christchurch Quake

The earthquake that hit Christchurch and the surrounding region Tuesday 22 February 2011 was even more devastating than the one in September last year in terms of loss of human lives.

People from New Zealand and the rest of the world have been watching the images of the city in ruin with presumably a wide range of emotions: unbelief, fear, pain, compassion… Many have been trying to get hold of the people they know who live in the area hoping to get a reassurance they are all right.

The response from the rest of the country since the quake has been amazing. Offerings of help and assistance of any kind have been pouring from every corner of New Zealand and beyond.
Hopefully this tidal wave of solidarity will help bring fresh hope into the lives of the people of Chistchurch and alleviate some of their anguish.

In the aftermath of their and our darkest day, a good piece of news has been reported by some media: Emma Howard and Chris Greenslade ( see photo) got married today at the Christ the King Catholic Church in Burnside, after Emma was rescued from ruins of the Pyne Gould building on Tuesday. Her husband was reportedly in the team of volunteers who managed to rescue her.

This marriage, a celebration of love just three days after the quake, brought to my mind the words of Enzo Bianchi, prior of the monastic community of Bose in Italy, who spoke after the quake that hit the Abruzzo region just days before Easter in 2009. The pain of the victims’ families and friends, he said, tells us of the mystery of the human suffering and, at the same time, of the suffering of Christ himself. “Behold the man”, Pontius Pilate said when he was about to condemn this Rabbi from Nazareth. Here comes the man, here comes the whole humankind with its burden of pain and death, with all its frailty and weakness.

The funeral service for the victims of the earthquake in Italy was held on Good Friday and included the Eucharist. This is the only day of the year the Church doesn’t celebrate the Eucharist.  An exception was made on that occasion because the Church deemed appropriate to link the funeral with Good Friday in the light of the Resurrection, the day when the power of the love of God will prevail on everything else, “He will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness or pain. The world of past has gone.” (Rv 21:4), only love will remain on that day, the same love we can live out every day our life despite and through all the pain.

For both believers and unbelievers the mystery of evil still remains unsolved but to see the love and the solidarity among human beings may give us some meaning and hope that there is something more powerful than death. Because this is the Easter message, something that we Christians nowadays seem unable to communicate to the others with strength and conviction: Christ is risen because he loved us till the end and to the point of accepting a violent death.

So congratulations Emma and Chris, your love helps to remind us that love can really conquer death and we have seen it today in the City of the Church of Christ.

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