In Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium) he stated,

“Sometimes we are tempted to be that kind of Christian who keeps the Lord’s wounds at arm’s length. Yet Jesus wants us to touch human misery, to touch the suffering flesh of others. He hopes that we will stop looking for those personal or communal niches which shelter us from the maelstrom of human misfortune and instead enter into the reality of other people’s lives and know the power of tenderness. Whenever we do so, our lives become wonderfully complicated and we experience intensely what it is to be a people, to be part of a people.” 

To help others heal, we have to allow ourselves to get close enough to understand their wounds. This begins when we allow ourselves to first get close enough to the wounds of Christ. If we are not inspired and moved to love every time we see the Cross, then we will never be affected by the wounds of our brothers and sisters around us. St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) walked for nearly 50 years in darkness, in what St. John of the Cross referred to as “the dark night of the soul.” Yet, she continued to live, love and light up the hearts of the poor in Calcutta to bring them the Gospel of Christ. She suffered greatly to bring love to those in darkness.

Mother Mary’s “Fiat” was a yes to have her life radically affected. It was a yes to stand beneath the cross of her dying son and experience the agony of His darkest hour with Him. I can only imagine how our Blessed Mother must have suffered, how her heart must have been pierced by the sharpest of swords, seeing her son hanging on the Cross. Just as she comforted Jesus on Calvary, Mother Mary reminds us that there is no cross we carry alone.

Jesus Himself remains the greatest example of what it means to be affected for the sake of another. He wept at the tomb of Lazarus.  He knocked on the hearts of the lowly.  He endured persecution. He said yes to His Father to suffer the greatest of sufferings for all of humanity. Jesus suffered for us not because He had to, but because He chose to suffer.

When we encounter someone in pain, we encounter the suffering Christ. Sometimes we will encounter people who are hanging on the Cross beside Jesus in their pain and the Lord will ask us to imitate His beloved Mother, as we stand beneath them and look upon them with love and compassion. Other times we may be asked to hang beside them and enter into their passion. Regardless of what the Lord calls us to do, one thing is certain: He will ask us to love.

My clients have changed me.  They inspire me.  They teach me.  They push me to look at my own wounds and to find new ways to use the gifts God has given me for the glory of His Kingdom. I have been blessed by opening my heart to love. I have days filled with joy because I see God’s grace so clearly at work in their lives. On days when I struggle to see the path God is leading them down, I trust that His grace is sufficient. (2 Cor 12:9).  When I look at my clients, I see the courage that I often lack, the strength I often need and the hope I always pray for. Most of them have suffered from atrocities that I wouldn’t wish on anyone and yet, they continue to wake up each day and live in spite of the pain.  They make me a better person and most importantly, a better Christian.  And I pray that we as Christians may have the courage to never cease to be affected; that we may always say yes to love, even at the cost of the Cross.

© 2017 Drewe DeJesus

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