There is so much of suffering all around us. It's easy to be blinded to the harsh realities that others could be facing during the festive season of Christmas. Where possible, we should be generous and charitable. Not just with money, but also with our time, energy and prayers. Here are a few real ways to reach out to someone in need and make a huge difference.
Last Saturday, I attended the celebration of St. Francis Xavier’s feast at St. Luke’s Parish, Woodvale, Perth. Before beginning the Holy Mass, the priest shared with the congregation, his experiences of a difficult phase that he went through last year. His sharing is the inspiration behind this post.
Suffering by way of a sickness or disease is indeed a cross to bear. More dangerous the disease, heavier the cross. Those who carry heavier loads are more in need of help than those carrying lighter crosses. I’m sure all of us have either carried this heavy cross or have witnessed a loved one suffer.
It’s easy to dismiss suffering when it is not us who are facing it. Yet we are called to help those in need. We may not do big things, but when we reach out to someone, at the very moment he or she needs it, we make a massive difference to that person. A little delay on our part, and whatever we do may be too little, too late.
Here I share some simple ways to make a real difference to someone in need.
1) Spend time with a physically suffering person:
Many people, especially the elderly, are prone to be left alone on a hospital bed, in the hands of hospital staff, alone. Lonely. Visiting someone in the hospital, during the limited visiting hours, is easy to do. But there's a lot more we are capable of.
Spend time with a friend who is on a dialysis machine and pray the Rosary or take time off from your family to be a tower of strength to a cancer patient, undergoing a chemotherapy session. Even more, after the person gets discharged, visit him or her at home. He definitely will need the ongoing support of all kinds. If it’s your own family member, you would do it more readily. What about doing this for a friend or neighbor?
This tip is not for all, because it’s very tough. But it’s not impossible. It requires us to get out of our comfort zone of family, kids, weekend relaxation, rest etc.
2) Cook a meal for someone who is ill:
Many elderly parents do not have their adult children close by because they could be in another country. The parents could be admitted to a hospital, not for an emergency or intensive care, but for less serious issues that are not serious enough for the children to come and be with them.
Or it could be that close family members are required to attend to the patient, full time, with no time for cooking. In some countries, hospital patients have to make self-arrangements for food. You can make a difference by stepping up and offering to provide food.
3) Transport a sick friend or neighbor to the hospital:
Many of us underestimate the difference a pickup or drop can do for someone who needs to visit a medical facility. I'm not talking about a situation where you need an ambulance. But about situations where your neighbor or friend or parish priest may need help to go for a regular checkup or sudden visit. It's about spotting a need and responding to it. You may be directly requested for help or could be something that you just sensed and choose to act.
4) Pray with the ill:
In times of serious health issues, prayers can do wonders to the soul. It's not about begging for a physical healing alone but about receiving the gift of faith and strength from God to walk through the dark valleys. You can be that angel. That shoulder on whom someone can rest. Prayers can move mountains and work wonders. How wonderful if you are the channel.
5) Dip into your pockets and help financially:
Money is a necessity. Without it, many things are not possible. Especially, medical treatment. Those who are blessed financially can channel some of their tithes to help others who are financially in need.
If we help others, we have done it unto Jesus. It's a wonderful season to start practicing some actions, in order to complement our faith. After all, this is the season of joy and expectation. Let's spread joy and fulfill a few expectations of those in need, by being charitable and generous.
Hope you are having a wonderful Advent. Wish you a holy and blessed Christmas.
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