God’s Work, Our Work

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From desperation, suffering, and impending loss, two people received new life from Jesus when they had nowhere else to turn. Did they sing? Dance? Fall on their knees? Raise their arms to heaven? Gather their neighbors for a feast? I can imagine any of these responses, having witnessed similar instances during my work with Catholic Relief Services.  

In my first year with CRS, I visited Haiti and surveyed the work of recovery and rebuilding after the devastating earthquake. My mind was on the obstacles and the actions needed before we could even begin: Rubble had to be cleared, but heavy equipment could not be brought in as there were no roads. There was no place to deposit the debris. Rights to the lots for rebuilding were not documented. A social pact had to be set up for the neighbors to manage sanitation and sewer. Livelihood options had to be developed to sustain ongoing needs. Construction materials had to be sourced for homes, schools, and businesses. The challenges were endless, but we set to work. 

New life gradually emerged from the desperation and suffering. In the midst of this I discovered a message scrawled on the wooden frame of a family’s new home: “God is good.” 

As I breathed in the message in front of me, my musings and worrying ceased. It was clear that God was in that humble home, bringing unspeakable joy. God answered a prayer and enlisted us to fulfill it. 

What we consider our work is actually God’s work—work in which we, the body of Christ, intimately participate. As Jesus instructs, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). God is indeed good. 

© Liturgical Press.

Carolyn Woo

Carolyn Woo is the retired CEO of Catholic Relief Services. She and her husband, David Bartkus, are the parents of two adult sons.

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