“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” ~ St. Teresa of Avila
Since Christ is no longer in human form, St. Teresa implores Christians to do good so that His compassion might flow through us and become visible to those in need, especially in the light of increasing violence and tragedy in modern society.
“These must be the end times!” You might overhear someone say while waiting in line at a restaurant. Meanwhile, on the television, the newscast continues to cover the aftermath of yet another tragedy, ad nauseum. Tearful victims, flashing police lights, cordoned-off crime scenes, and scrolling headlines filled with tastefully-designed buzzwords and phrases. Though the TV is muted in the restaurant, you can guess what the reporters are saying. And chances are there’s a tone of “doom and gloom” in their silent voices.
Immune to Suffering
Soon, they will start featuring the talking heads: i.e. psychologists, politicians, and maybe even the occasional religious official to weigh in on the tragedy. Some will offer their condolences while others will do their best to defend and push their own agendas. But as all this is going on, there are still grieving families, orphaned children, people without homes, who are starving and diseased. These are real, living, and breathing human beings who are suffering. Not just names on a clipboard or statistics on a spreadsheet.
I apologize for the bleak tone that opens my latest article. Perhaps I’m wrong, but too often I’ve seen a national or worldwide tragedy get turned into a series of issues. And as the media outlets continue to document and update us on their latest feeding frenzy, what do we the normal citizens do? Will we do anything besides read the blurb on our smartphones, think “Oh how awful”, and then continue eating lunch completely unaffected? If this is our response as Christians, we are doing a great disservice to the Church as well as our Lord.
Recently, I happened to be privy to a blog posting on Facebook. At the moment, I cannot recall what the issue was about. But most of the people who responded to the blog had some very negative comments to say. Some resorted to using expletives in bold capitalized letters. And a good majority of the comments were from folks who identified themselves as Christians. In response to that, I wrote back:
To all my Catholic, and other Christian, friends please take note. Could we please make it a rule not to bad mouth, in no particular order: fellow Christians, political candidates (no matter how much we disagree with them), hot button topics (like transgender and homosexual unions), the moral decline of society, our Church leaders, and pretty much everything?! Come on folks, there’s bad stuff in the world. But how often has venting our spleens actually solved anything? Do you really think we’ll win others over by our frowny faces and acid tongues? If you’re not going to step up and make some changes (or vote), don’t be surprised with how things have ended up. Stepping back and saying “God will provide” doesn’t always work either. Sometimes He wants us to take action. To be His hands and feet in a hurting, confused world.
Mind you, I’m not immune to apathy either. There have been times when I should’ve done more. But I didn’t. Sometimes, I was vicious when responding to situations or people I didn’t like. There were days when I told someone “I’ll be praying for ya!” But then I forgot or didn’t intend to keep that promise. We’re all works in progress.
Compassion in Action
Our response to alleviating hardships and tragedies doesn’t have to be big and clangingly loud. We don’t have to set up a new charity organization. Or raise millions of dollars. We don’t even have to travel great distances to do that. How many people do you know in your own community who are struggling? Who have fallen on hard times? The Bible mentions taking care of widows and orphans. Have you stopped by to visit that little old lady with the walker? How about participating in the Big Brothers Big Sisters youth organization?
Imagine for a moment, what would this world look like if every Christian stepped up and did their part to bring Christ’s message of compassion, redemption, and salvation to just one other person? That, whenever an earthquake or devastating flood struck, Christians would be moved to go on a mission trip to help rebuild and relieve suffering? Could you envision a group of youths going down to help out at the local soup kitchen or retirement home? When something aggravates you on Facebook, as your finger hovers over the QWERTY keyboard, could you refrain from writing a negative comment? Would you be willing to go the extra mile?