Uncluttered Relationships: 20 March

Abba Epiphanios used to say that the Canaanite wom­an wept and was heeded; the woman with an issue of blood approached in silence and was praised; the Publican did not open his mouth at all, and yet his prayer was heard by God; while the Pharisee shouted and was condemned.

Reading: Matthew 25:34-36

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Thought

"Care of the sick must rank above and before all else, so that they may truly be served as Christ," says the Rule of St. Benedict. "Let a separate room be designated for the sick, and let them be served by an attendant who is God-fearing, attentive, and concerned." Benedict also asks the abbot to be a father to the sick in an even more obvious way than he is to the rest of the community. Like the poor, the very old, and the very young, the sick represent the weakest and most vulnerable among us. As such, they can be great burdens in terms of the time and energy they require. We often avoid being with them because we are loathe to "squander" our precious, limited resources on people who are sometimes too preoccupied by their own pain or disability to even no­tice and appreciate what we are doing.

Yet the sick are wonderful reminders that we, too, are much more fragile and dependent than we like to think. One of the reasons the very sick make us uncomfortable is be­cause they mirror hidden weaknesses in ourselves. They are too worn out by their suffering to be "productive," much less to create or generate something entirely new. They do not "feed" us in the way that being around vibrant youth and health can feed us. Instead, and perhaps much more importantly, they give us back the truth, which is that we, too, will come to this, if death does not take us by surprise beforehand.

Action

Today I will seek to spend time with someone unwell.

Prayer

Lord, we are all of us weak creatures, all of us subject to death,  and therefore all of us are in need of love.