The fundamental roots of Comforting the Afflicted are found throughout many of the Gospel stories of Jesus. Often we see Jesus coming to the aid of others but it was especially difficult for Him during His Passion. However, Jesus still found time to insure that His Mother Mary, who was in the depths of grief, was cared for by St. John and Jesus touched a hurting when He reached out to the Good Thief.

In each of these cases, Jesus himself was at the brink of death and He still found time for others. Yes, Jesus is our role model. We are called to be Christ-like at all times, even when we are suffering. We do Jesus work when we find time for others.

A story of my struggle might help illustrate this point. These days, I suffer from very serious case of arthritis that causes me to drastically change my lifestyle. Dealing with such pain often means that I am tempted with mood swings. When things are most difficult, I find it a challenge to stay pleasant and cheerful.

One morning, I was called to visit a parishioner at local hospital. On this morning, my pain was exceptionally sharp so much so that I was forced to use a cane to walk. In this process, I struggled with the temptation of self-pity. I asked God…why? Of course, matters got more complicated when I could not find a parking spot close to the facility and I was forced to park a good distance away.

Eventually as I neared the hospital, I was clearly struggling. This could be seen in my limping; my moaning and also though my internal grumbling. I asked God why He did not find another person to go to the hospital—one who could at least walk without pain. When I entered the lobby of the hospital, I soon discovered why God called me that particular day.

Just inside the lobby was a legless man in a wheelchair. This man greeted everyone who came in the door with a beaming smile and asked if they needed help. He offered me coffee and doughnuts as he told me that he was sorry that I was having a hard time walking. I just stood and stared!

God had clearly showed me that reaching out to others was truly possible. As I wiped the tears from my eyes, I realised that it was God who was talking to me through the actions of
that cripple.

Caring for others has no boundaries. Our Baptism calls each of us to go beyond our personal suffering to be available to comfort others. Before I encountered the crippled man, I was in pain by choosing to focus on myself—not others. This legless gentleman was ignoring his personal suffering and was reaching out to others. What a lesson in life. What a lesson in love.

Deacon Thomas Frankenfield

 

Adapted from http://www.holyspiritinteractive.net/columns/tomfrankenfield/reflections/28.asp

This article can be found in Mirror 0116.