Thursday, February 16, 2006

Children and Teddy Bears alike are all ill...

Given we have been over run with a new virus and I am currently surrounded by sick children and their accompanying teddy bears (also ill of course), I do not have a lot of time for posting today so instead I will introduce you to a very inspiring and thought provoking writer whom I have been enjoying through Sister Pat’s Joy Notes .

Her name is Sister Janet and she is with the Vatican Radio and has a new website of her own, Pause for Prayer . So far I have enjoyed everything I have read from her. Here is Sister Janet’s addition to the Peace Card that Sister Pat sends out daily. I hope that you enjoy her writings as much as I do. If you wish to read past ones, click on the Joy Notes link above. To read today's Joy Notes click HERE.


The young girl was whining to passers-by of her hunger and destitution when a well-dressed woman turned back and offered her a chocolate-covered sponge cake made by a famous chocolate manufacturer. The girl might have been hungry, but on seeing food rather than money, she scowled as her benefactor left St. Peter’s and this morning’s General Audience.

The begging youngster reminded me of a time when one of my Community had left a charity reception where a buffet meal had been served. The surplus food was distributed amongst those who had helped to organise the event, a plate of special sandwiches being given to my Community member. On the way home, she saw a young man begging on the steps of a church so she decided that he was far in more need of the food than the rest of us. She handed him the plate of sandwiches. One by one, he opened them and then returned the whole selection to her. “I don’t like lettuce”, he declared.

This morning’s young beggar outside St. Peter’s also reminded me of a man who banged at our gate in Lusaka one Sunday lunchtime, looking for money to buy a coffin in which to bury his child. There was only one problem: he was accompanied by the wife whom, only the previous Sunday, he’d claimed had died.

There are many rich and poor in this world, but just as “all that glitters is not gold”, so all those who are found declaring that they are poor, homeless, unemployed and the parent of several children are not always telling the truth. It is intriguing, for instance, to see the difference between one elderly “widow” when she is begging in front of St. Paul’s Basilica, when she is bent double and crippled, at St. Peter’s, when she also suffers from Parkinson’s disease, and on the bus, when I can see nothing wrong with her… unless advancing age is a disease.

There will always be some people who will play on the goodness of others for their own ends. As the saying goes, “there are those who will use things and love people, and others who will love things and use people”. Sad, but true.

Years ago there was a popular poster placed in strategic places. It declared simply, “Fragile! People are easily broken. Handle with care!”

Each and every one of us is in need, even though we don’t all resort to the streets and other public places to look for a response. There are those who are lonely, fearful, sick, worried, sad, discouraged… Sometimes we hide our poverty, perhaps at the very moment when it ought to be made known. I cannot help you if I don’t know that you are in need. You can’t help me if I am unable to tell you that I’m desperate for a listening ear and a loving heart.

We build communities of love by giving and receiving. Do I love you because I need you or need you because I love you? There’s a difference.

God needs us because he loves us. That’s amazing! God needs me!

God bless, Sr. Janet

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