SPIRITUAL WORK OF MERCY COMFORT THE SORROWFUL

THE GOOD SAMARITAN

“Go and do likewise”

There are a tremendous number of people who suffer from sorrow and grief in our world today, so there is a tremendous need for Christians to “Comfort the Sorrowful.”.

“Jesus wept”,(John 11: 35). When Jesus heard the news of the passing of his friend Lazarus, He was overcome with sorrow and wept. It was a practical way of showing his sympathy and empathy. Jesus was human in every way but for sin.  He suffered and wept and continues to suffer and weep with us today in His human nature.  Now, that He has ascended into Heaven, He has commissioned us to comfort the sorrowful by being His Face to those in need here on earth.

Jesus conducted a ministry of presence with those who were grieving a death. He went to be with mourners. When the widow of Nain lost her only son, he went to her and “he was moved with pity for her” (Lk 7:13). When the daughter of Jairus died, Jesus went to the home of her parents who were weeping and mourning (Lk 8:51). When Martha and Mary lost their brother, Lazarus, Jesus went to Bethany to be with them, and he wept with them (Jn 11:35).

God encourages us in our role as caregiver. St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God.  For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow.”

Who are some of our neighbors who long to be comforted?

  • People who are widowed and others who grieve at the loss of their loved ones.
  • Orphaned children or parents who lost their child through sickness or accident.
  • Victims of physical, emotional or other abuse.
  • Others who suffer guilt and remorse due to sin and negligence.
  • And others who have suffered financial or other loss of cherished things in life.
  • Sorrow comes as the result of many other things including, betrayal by a friend, the end of a valued relationship, feeling alone, or the losses associated with aging — just to name a few.

Empathy is preferred over sympathy. Empathy is putting into action our feelings of sympathy. There is no particular way of empathizing or comforting people who are in need.  Sometimes it is our presence alone.  One thing we must not say is we know how they feel.  We can never know how another person feels. Every situation is unique to that person.

People who are suffering often have a lot more wisdom about their situations than we or they realize. Often our simply listening well is what’s needed for them to discover that wisdom. If we do not know what to say, it is better to say nothing at all. Speak with gestures. Smile. Offer a hug. Or give simple, sincere encouragement: “I love you.” “I’m praying for you.”

A comforter is totally present mentally and focused completely on the other. It is best not to interrupt or change the subject. Ask follow-up questions. Take time.  Be patient. Treat them with reverence. We are the face, the voice and the love of God when we comfort the sorrowful.

Suffering and sorrow are tough enough, but they can seem almost interminable and overwhelming when we have to do them alone. Having someone there to bear the load can be a blessing. At the same time, sometimes it can be an added stress if we stay too long or push too hard; Space and time are also essential for healing.

 

Pray a lot—We can’t fix everything.  Sometimes it may feel we can’t fix very much at all. There are many people and situations that we must simply hand over to God.

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