One Church Many Cultures The Good News of Cultural Diversity Newsletter Fall/Winter 2021
Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees, & Travelers
Reconciliation, a Path of Healing for Those in Search of Hope
By: Fr. Luc Philogene, Haitian Apostle, The Shrine of the Sacred Heart, Washington, DC
Human beings carry the new life of Christ in "clay vessels". Subjected to temptation, misery, difficulties of all kinds, our lives as children of God can be weakened or even suffocated by sins. As a result, Christ, the physician of souls, entrusts the Church with the perpetuation of his work of healing and salvation among his members. Reconciliation is the utmost expression of God's love and consolation.
Thus, we can resolve to rebuild with God what sins have destroyed; that is through penance towards oneself, the people one has wronged, the Church, or the world. God himself takes charge of what seems humanly irreparable. Forgiveness is a gift; it offers human beings this inner peace that cannot be found anywhere else. Therefore, let us try to reflect on reconciliation as a path of healing for those in search of hope.
God is a loving Father who created men to achieve happiness. However, men became disobedient and preferred themselves to God's love. This design of God, an expression of full love, is inscribed in the most intimate part of our being: men seek, desire, and pursue happiness in every action and, especially, in all their wishes and acts of love. Aristotle understood this twenty-three centuries ago. He wrote in the first chapter of his manuscript titled Nicomachean Ethics that all men agree that happiness is the supreme good, for which we choose all other goods (health, success, honor, money, pleasure, and so on...) In reality, everyone knows this and should therefore be able to say: "What I want is to be happy".
Yes, some people, as well as some countries, are looking for this happiness unsuccessfully. This is the case of the Haitian population, which is the model we would like to consider in this article. Haiti is the first black republic in the Western Hemisphere; nonetheless, since the evening of its independence, the population has been experiencing sufferings and disappointments. Haitians have been wounded, torn. They wonder where this agony comes from. To this question, they always answer with their faith: a faith in this God who is the supreme healer, faith in this God who invites us to take the path of reconciliation with ourselves, our neighbor, and God. Haiti has known for many years a succession of violence, it has lived through difficult days, some more difficult than others. One thing that is certain for this population is that their God will never forsake them; they believe that their God is able to lead them out of this maze.
The experience of the Haitian population makes me realize that there is a close connection between Reconciliation, Healing, and Hope. In the chorus of the vicissitudes of the life of these people, there is only one constant: their faith. Because of their faith, Haitians have hope: hope that one day they will experience joy and contentment; hope against hope. When the Haitian people find a way to reconcile with themselves, they will also find the way to live their hope, be healed of their anguish, and be witnesses to God’s love and compassion.