Summary: How can we speak of a God of love in a situation characterized by pain and suffering, death guilt and hopelessness?
Care: The Metaphor of Love
Roshini (name changed) was outcast, called dirty and sunned by her village from the day she was raped at the age of 16.
After four years, she had to run away to Mumbai city with a boy who abandoned her and their infant boy.
Roshini then left her son with her widow mother in the village and headed to Pune city in search of work.
The money she made there in prostitution-helped pay for her son’s food and education and gave her old mother a better life.
She was tested HIV positive.
When her health began to worsen, Roshini retreated to her village but soon she was asked to leave the village.
She happened to meet a social worker who brought her to an NGO, HIV/AIDS rehabilitation center in Pune.
She passes her days dressed in shapeless loose-fitting clothes and helping other patients when she could and spending time with her friends, which she has made there.
She affirms that it is better this way to live among others and not to bring shame to her family.
But at last having no hope of living any longer she desires to go back home for one last visit.
She has, however, no way of knowing whether this time she would be accepted.
Persons living with HIV, the emotional, psychological, and spiritual support provided locally by a committed person can be an important resource for coping with their disease.
The support provided by spiritual practices and religious beliefs may constitute a resource in finding out the solutions for rejection, isolation, hopelessness and fear created by illness.
My intense involvement in and commitment to the cause of the HIV/AIDS affected human persons have opened my eyes to the fact that before physical death there is a socio-psycho-spiritual death.
People diagnosed as HIV positive find that their lives are completely redefined with the dreadful attributes like denial, anger, isolation, depression, frustration and social stigmatization.
It is not only the question of the HIV/AIDS affected people but also their families and the entire society pass through these stages.
How can we speak of a God of love in a situation characterized by pain and suffering, death guilt and hopelessness?
How can we proclaim the God of life to people who live with death daily, cruelly and prematurely?
How to convince those who are ostracized, discriminated against, stigmatized and are not regarded as persons due to this sickness (HIV/AIDS) – for which they may or may not be responsible – that they are daughters and sons of a loving and compassionate God?
These are some of the painful questions, which we Christians as individuals and as a community have an obligation to respond to.
Humans are caring animals.
In our case, care has not only a physical, but also an emotional and spiritual content.
We had all but forgotten this and leave for the institutions to do all the caring.
We all need to realize out basic human nature of catering the wholistic needs of a person no matter who he or she is; or what ailments cause the person.
The scientific developments and enrichment of professionals and institutions, we have lost sight of our neighbor’s need to us or our need to them.
It is unfair to assume that care is maliciously withheld from people with HIV/AIDS.
Most of the doctors too feel so endangered despite the often-repeated assurance that it is really safe to care for the seropositive, provided appropriate precautions are taken.
In fact, compassion is of the very essence of human nature.
If Saint Mother Teresa is known for her saintliness today is just because of her compassionate love that she lives out in the streets without any discrimination.
All humans are the children of God. Care must be the metaphor of love that basically every human person is called to practice.
Saint Mother Teresa recognized the uniqueness of human person and left behind a blueprint of the KINGDOM of GOD.
She and her companions do even today what each one of us should be doing.
By quoting her, would never mean to put her up on a pedestal and admire her from distance but to live the kind of live that she lived as a role model.
Such role models are precious and we must inculcate in us.
Charles Colson of Prison Ministries International, recounts an episode which illustrates that he had his anxiety at having to visit an HIV infected prisoner – Bessie Shipp, “I was afraid”, Colson writes, “Then the face of Mother Teresa flashed before me and I heard her words: ‘These boys deserve to know of God’s love…’ that empowered Colson to minister to Bassie.
To care is to meet needs.
This is the bottom line.
Walson Thampu in his writing emphasizes, “Care is more than charity. To care is to affirm the other. It is positive statement of the value of human beings as discovered and expressed in life. Care in the outworking of love. Care in turn deepens love…It a basic to healing…nothing is more important vis-à-vis this epidemic than to care for those infected and dying; for we have hardly any scientific means to prevent the infection, or to cure it”.
May the Heart of Jesus live in the Hearts of all. Amen...