The Hope of Care
There is a moment in the Gospels that I have always been amazed about (really, there is more than just one, but this post is just about the one). It amazes me because it shows utter selfless care and love. It comes in the midst of the crucifixion, when Jesus is being slowly killed. And in the middle of that, Jesus takes the time to take care of his mother by telling John that he is to adopt Jesus’ mother as his own mother. (Click here to read this passage in John’s Gospel.)
I think about that every time I read the crucifixion story. Right in the middle of the crucifixion, Jesus presses pause on his own suffering to care for someone else. It is probably the last moment that I would think to do something like that. But not so for Jesus. And it shouldn’t surprise us that Jesus would do this very thing–he is, after all, Jesus. But nonetheless, it makes my jaw drop in shock.
All throughout his ministry, Jesus shows us how to have compassion on folks. How to love. How to have empathy. And for Jesus, there is no moment in which this should not be the lens that we see the world. Remember, that the very action of Jesus going to the cross, willingly, is an act of compassion on the entire world and the entire cosmos. It is love, empathy, care. And Jesus is doing this on a whole-wide-world scale, and at the same time is doing it on a very personal scale. Caring for others is the lens through which Jesus lives and treats others.
Which reminds me, or teaches me, or challenges me, to learn to do the same. Even in the most trying moments of life, Jesus still has this as a primary lens to see the world through. And so, I believe, there are a couple of lessons that can be learned from this so that we can practice doing the same.
- See others as people made in the image of God.
This, of course, ought to be a lesson from which all of our interactions with the rest of the world (and even ourselves sometimes too) are founded upon. When God creates the world, each and every one of God’s creation is made in God’s image. We all bear the image of our creator. While we have differences that ought to be celebrated (and not ignored), this similarity alone is enough to hold us all together as God’s family.
2. Learn to listen; seek to understand.
Second, we practice listening. There is a famous prayer written by St. Francis of Assisi in which he requests from God that he understand rather than to be understood. If we practiced this in every conversation we had, we would learn to empathize and to have care and compassion for one another on a much deeper level.
3. Resist the temptation of me.
Always, the temptation to focus on ourselves will rise to the surface. But remember, Jesus pressed pause on his own suffering, and in fact on the salvation of the whole world, to care for one person. There is never an opportunity that we do not or will not have to choose to care for another person rather than to only seek our own good fortune or well-being. (An important note here is that it is also important to care for yourself. However, this should not be done at the expense of others or in lieu of others.)
To care for one another is to learn to love. It is to learn to follow Jesus, even in the moments when we are tempted not to. To care for another is to bring hope to the world.