Friday, September 22, 2006

Let there be love!

There are advantages and disadvantages to not being an expert!

The inspiration to start a daily e-mail of the reflections from ‘Pause for Prayer’ turned out to be easier said than done. I designed (to my mind) a useful format, staying up very late one night and beginning at 05.30 the following morning in the attempt. Feeling very satisfied with the result, I signed up for Google Groups, only to find that my efforts had not been very useful because their format doesn’t accept mine. No problem. I thought their simpler ideas would do just as well…after all, it’s a free service… only to find that there would be a delay whilst they checked out that I’m not a spammer. Fine by me. As Vatican Radio receives a daily superabundance of unrequested spam and weird messages, I think it’s great that there is a filtering system, even if it caused me personally a bit of inconvenience.

Recently, however, I was really angry when I opened up an e-mail that arrived in my mailbox. After spending 9 months in Nigeria and 12 years in Zambia, I saw a number of children who, through a complication of malnutrition, had half of their face eaten away by an awful condition called cancrum oris. It caused so much suffering to the children and to their families.

You can, therefore, imagine my reaction when I saw that someone had decided to cash in on the awful photos of the children with this condition in an attempt to make money. Whoever it was had set up a bogus online charity, had added some of the worst pictures and had sent it off around the world. It just so happened that the perpetrator had missed out on one or two essential details, merely alerting the slightly more savvy recipients to another e-hoax. However I am equally convinced that some generous souls were moved to parting with their cash.

It is so sad that there are people who are prepared to benefit by the misfortune of others, reducing them to instruments of personal enrichment in the wrong way. There are many occasions when the patience, the insight and the determination of those who are suffering is a deeply enriching experience for observers, whose lives can become ever more meaningful. Yet there are those who see the same suffering only as a means to make money. Doesn’t that turn human beings into things rather than individuals loved by a God who himself knows the depths of pain?

Someone said that there are those who use things and love people and there are others who use people and love things. May God touch the hearts of those who can’t see the true value of others. Let there be love!

God bless,
Sr. Janet