by Sr. Joan Jurski, OSF
In January of this year I had the good fortune of seeing the musical “Come from Away.” It is the story of the 38 jetliners forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland on September 11. The population of Gander soared to over 7,000 persons from the ordinary 1,500. All of a sudden, strangers appeared and needs were identified. Where would they stay, what would they eat, what medicines did they need? It was a crisis like no other that the small population had experienced. The people were called upon to give help to their visitors. A community of caretakers, and ordinary citizens was born in the midst of this crisis. They saw and responded.
I had written this blog long before the tragedy in Ukraine. So we see another beautiful expression of care for people in need. The global community has come to assist the people of Ukraine in their most dire circumstances. We give thanks and bless all who have come to their aid. May this outpouring continue as the people of Ukraine find their way in a new world for themselves. We pray for peace and new life for Ukraine.
In our own country there are as many examples of good people coming to the rescue of friends and strangers after hurricanes, forest fires, floods and devasting home fires. Ordinary folks come forward in time of need even young children sell lemonade or cocoa to raise funds for a charitable cause.
These dramatic disasters don’t usually happen every day. We thank God for this. Crisis, however, can happen close to home in different ways. How are we caretakers on a daily basis? For some need is a daily occurrence. Do I recognize the suffering of those persons with whom I come in contact each day? Do I accept the stranger as brother and sister when he or she is in need? Am I reminded that all persons share the same breath of God? St. Francis reminds us of the blessing of all creation in his beautiful poetry, “The Canticle of Creatures.” All creation is blessed. We are all saturated in God.
I can be an active part of a caring community when I relate to people by recognizing their humanity. We all share the same God DNA. We can give a listening ear, a caring smile, a pat on the back, a note, a telephone call. Everyday Christianity is that smile, hand out, recognition of the other. My simple caring actions can bring another person into fullness of being. A graced encounter with another person can bring me joy as well as the other. And it is written that joy is the echo of God’s life within us and joy is truly a Franciscan virtue.
Some would say the world today is turned upside down. The pandemic and war have changed life for all of us. Complaining about a world that seems to lack respect, kindness, or unity solves nothing. I can do something about it in my sphere of influence. I can try to see the humanity of each person. I can look beyond differences in culture, ethnicity, age, race, and or political persuasion. This is the care, the compassion that each of us is called to.
It’s up to me to bring positive change into the world. It’s up to me to reach out to another. It’s up to me to be an example of goodness. Today how will I be a part of the Caring Community? Can we become a compassionate world?
Prayer: God of all, you call me to create and build a world of unity of all people. Show me how to grow in listening, compassion, empathy and mercy. Let me be a source of hope and comfort to another. Try reading the “Canticle of the Creatures” by St. Francis.
Scripture Reflection: John 13 34-35 Romans 12:10 Proverbs 3:3-4 Romans 12: 10