Yesterday, the outer person was in need … Today, the inner person is in need … As we treat others so, also, shall we be treated, Forever
The obvious instruction from today’s First Reading is to help the people around us with basic necessities. That may still be a need in some places; however, the Gospel challenges us to look a bit deeper: being a light means to reveal/ see the deeper needs of people around us.
In the past, the outer person was the focus (Old Testament). Today, it must be the inner person so much addressed by Jesus Christ (New Testament). We can all recall the words of Jesus when the paralytic was lowered through the roof: “my child, your sins are forgiven.”
The external paralysis was only healed by Jesus as a way to confirm the INNER healing.
So called rich people, can be very lonely. Youth who receive everything and live in nice houses may, also, be very unhappy. Furthermore, the people who need our help may live in the same home as ourselves:
- Wives waiting to hear magic words from their husbands: “I love you.”
Husbands waiting to hear magic words from their wives: “thank you.”
Sons waiting for their Dads to say: “I’m proud of you.” Daughters waiting for “approval”/ special talks from their mums, and, from their dads “you are beautiful!”
The United Nations stated the following Key facts in November, 2021:
* Globally, one in seven 10-19-year-olds experiences a mental disorder, accounting for 13% of the global burden of disease in this age group.
* Depression, anxiety and behavioural disorders are among the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents.
* Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds.
* The consequences of failing to address adolescent mental health … extend to adulthood…
The report goes on to say: “One in six people are aged 10-19 years. Adolescence is a unique and formative time. Physical, emotional and social changes, including exposure to poverty, abuse, or violence, can make adolescents vulnerable to mental health problems. Protecting adolescents from adversity, promoting socio-emotional learning and psychological well-being, and ensuring access to mental health care are critical for their health and well-being during adolescence and adulthood.”
The problem is, in all the UN generality and statistics, it does not mention the real concrete needs of teenagers: the regular presence of mum and dad, words of empowerment and words of correction. Too much focus in our world/ politics is focused on giving unlimited freedom to teenagers, at a time when they need strong boundaries and healthy expressions of love.
So our focus, today, should not be on the “easy” things of food and shelter – like saying: here’s some money, now get lost. Each of us is called in our unique circumstances to ask: what should I say to this person or that person? God wants our personal involvement, both for the other person, but also to bring healing to ourselves.
Being a light in our world today, means being a role model (being visible), and being kind (light gives off warmth). Being salt in our world today means being one of three things:
1) salt as an irritant – telling our young people the TRUTH;
2) salt as a taste enhancer – empowering our youth by being present to listen to them;
3) salt as a preserver – protecting young people by creating healthy boundaries; and giving them meaningful ways of contributing to the well-being of the family and Community.
As we heard in the First Reading: “Your integrity will go before you and the glory of the Lord behind you…” Be assured: God never forgets a kindness shown to others.
Maybe today, tomorrow or next year: good things for ourselves follows from our generosity.
The kindness we most need today, is for matters of the inner person, not the outer person.
Visit our elderly parents regularly: it not only benefits them, but also ourselves; and when we take our children, it teaches them how they should treat us when we are old and retired.
As we treat others so, also, shall we be treated. Finally, it’s true many of us are busy.
Perhaps it’s time to re-prioritise our busy-ness, so that we create true happiness for tomorrow through our actions of today: money does not create happiness for tomorrow; only the loving actions we do today can create tomorrow’s happiness.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI