EDITORIAL: Don’t let the cries of the suffering fall on deaf ears

We are living in times that try our souls and test our hearing. 

All around us, rise up the cries of those suffering, people who have been infected by the COVID-19 virus and the loved ones of those who did not survive, workers who have lost their jobs and employers who have lost their businesses, those whose isolation and loneliness have been deepened and those who have been temporarily separated from loved ones.

In our own anxiety, we might become deaf to those painful cries of others.

But Christ calls us to open our ears to those cries and respond. 

In remarks before praying the Angelus on Aug. 2, Pope Francis reminded us that true compassion requires “courageous sharing” when we see people suffering and in need.

God operates according to “the logic of taking responsibility for others … the logic of not looking the other way,” he said.

In the Diocese of Nashville, there are many who have answered that challenge.

Catholic Charities of Tennessee has launched several programs since the onset of the pandemic and the March 3 tornadoes to extend its reach so it could feed more of the hungry, give more assistance to those who have lost their jobs, provide counseling and comfort to those weighed down by all the disasters and crises that have swept through their life.

And it is not only Catholic Charities that have answered the call. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Society conferences at parishes across the diocese have continued their important work helping people in crisis. And parish food pantries have been there for those struggling to feed their families and themselves.

We do these things not because we seek acclaim or applause, but because our brothers and sisters are in need. It is what Jesus did.

Pope Francis’ remarks on Aug. 2 were a reflection on the Gospel reading about the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. As Christians, Pope Francis said, we should be showing the same compassion and tenderness that Jesus showed the crowds that day.

Compassion is not “sentimentality, but rather the concrete manifestation of the love that cares for the people’s needs,” the pope said, according to reports from Catholic News Service. It is the ability to suffer with others and “to take others’ sorrows on ourselves.”

“Perhaps it would do us good today to ask ourselves: Do I feel compassion when I read news about war, about hunger, about the pandemic?” he asked. “Do I feel compassion toward the people who are close to me? Am I capable of suffering with them, or do I look the other way, or ‘they can fend for themselves?’”

Let us not look the other way. Let us not let suffering people fend for themselves. Let us find a way to support with our time, our talents and our treasure the efforts of our parish or of Catholic Charities or of any other agency that is reaching out with a helping hand to those in need. 

When we do, those who are hurting will see the face of Christ in ours. They will feel the love and mercy of Christ through our embrace. They will feel Christ accompanying them as we walk along side them through this crisis. And when we show Christ’s mercy to others, we will recognize it in our own lives.