First, the largest earthquake in their history.
Then, a tsunami of equally epic proportions.
Then, a nuclear meltdown and radiation release that has hampered search and rescue with contamination that could make the area off-limits for decades to come if matters get any worse.
And the worst is yet to come, Cholera, Typhoid, Dysentary from tens of thousands of bodies decaying in the rubble. Add to that malnutrition and the severe post-traumatic stress and its manifestations.
I remember for weeks and weeks after 9/11 the unmistakable and never-to-be-forgotten stench of close to 3,000 bodies (my friends among them) decaying in the mountains of rubble as I drove past on the FDR drive (less than a mile east of ground zero). Those horrendous and inescapable odors are absent from the photos and add to the trauma of the Japanese daily.
Some of the worst trauma is walking through the rubble and knowing that one is surrounded by death unseen, the bodies of loved ones, neighbors, and fellow citizens hidden in the rubble. We had our mountains of rubble, the fires that burned until December of 2001, the seemingly endless funerals. I’ll never forget it. And for as bad as it all was, this disaster in Japan easily eclipses 9/11, Katrina, and Haiti combined and multiplied several times over
As the shock and numbness subside, the anxiety and despair will sink in as health conditions and future options rapidly deteriorate. Already, drinking water is running out and people are hard-pressed for potable water to cook the meager rations of rice. They can’t return home, or even to where home once was.
And all of this has happened during Lent, a time when we are fasting and praying as we turn our focus to the Lord.
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
Catholic Relief Services is accepting donations and getting set to aid in long term support. 95% of their money goes directly to support services.
Also, the children in my parish are starting a toy drive for the children in Japan, as well as kids’ clothes, etc. We are contacting the bishops in the stricken dioceses and setting up a way to ship to the bishops who will ensure distribution.
For pro-lifers, as we respond let’s remember Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 5:
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.