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Comfort for the afflicted

 

On May 10, the Catholic Church commemorated the feast of St. Damien of Molokai.

Damien devoted his life to ministering to people with leprosy -- known today as Hansen’s disease -- on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. The lepers had been separated from the rest of the population and all but forgotten, as in biblical times.

Damien reached out in love, sharing his faith and caring for the lepers, offering comfort and love where there had been isolation and fear. He eventually succumbed to the disease himself.

Leprosy isn’t the terrifying disease it once was, with modern medicines used to treat it. But there are other illnesses and issues that separate us from each other -- from love, comfort, fellowship, from the Good News that God loves those who are suffering.

Others have braved illness, condemnation, and more to minister to the isolated and quarantined -- Blessed Teresa of Calcutta reached out to those considered “untouchable” and Britain’s Princess Diana braved censure by offering physical affection, through hugs and handshakes, to those suffering from AIDS and HIV.

Who are the marginalized in our lives? Who are we called to reach out to in love this day, to offer compassion, hope, love, perhaps just a kind word or a smile?

Or are we the isolated, longing for comfort and love?

Numerous times in the gospels, you tell us, “Do not be afraid.”

Don’t be afraid to show love and compassion. Don’t be afraid to reach out for compassion, comfort, or love.

We may not be called to cross the world to minister to the marginalized, but we can be the look, touch, or word of love and comfort to those in need around us.

Today, my loving Lord, help me to really look around. Who needs to know they are loved, that they matter? Help me to reach out in love, to offer comfort, hope, and compassion. Help me not be afraid, if I am one of those in need, to seek the help and comfort of those who care.

May I not marginalize myself, nor isolate others, through pride, lack of understanding, or fear.

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.” (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta)

Find love, comfort, and fellowship with the parishioners of St. Ann Catholic Church. Masses are at 5:30 p.m. Saturdays, and Sundays at 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., noon (Spanish), and 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.stannlv.org.

 
 
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