Updated: September 16, 2021 10:04 AM GMT
Religious volunteers in Ho Chi Minh City set off to serve Covid-19 patients at field hospitals in this Aug 20 file photo. (Photo: UCA News)
People's lives are a collection of diverse relationships since nobody is an island.
They always have relationships with others, even though they do not know one another or are thousands of kilometers apart.
The most graphic and positive image expressing that interpersonal relationship is that of the human body.
Every organ or part, no matter how small its function, relates to and affects the whole body when it suffers an injury. The global Covid-19 pandemic gives us a deep sense of this.
I am deeply moved by John Donne's poetry: Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.
People show genuine compassion and sympathy to Covid-19 victims and families who suffer from the complete separation or loss of loved ones during the pandemic.
This raging outbreak creates social and economic instabilities, places countless people and families in miserable and hazardous situations with no way out.
Amid that misery, what do we do to push back the contagion and relieve the pain of other people?
Many people kindly provide their economic and emotional support through charitable donations, encouragement, understanding and consolation for those who are stricken with Covid-19.
Other people dare bravely to enter outbreak-stricken areas, quarantine centers and hospitals to serve victims.
Many are infected with the coronavirus and it is painful that those who pass away do so without any opportunity to meet their loved ones again. They sacrifice their own lives for noble causes with charitable goodwill gestures.
How can they be so courageous? What makes them steadfast and not give in to the massive destruction wrought by the coronavirus?
Nothing but love can explain this since people are created by God's love which is the very reason for their existence.
Frontline forces and volunteers carry the weapon of love into the fight against Covid-19, ignoring hardships and mortal danger, and even forgetting about themselves.
Love is the highest act of the soul, a mystery and sweet substance that nourishes and motivates people to live for and bond with one another.
Only love can impel people to engage in the common good with such meaningful and lofty presence imbued with the love of God and humanity.
How important it is to be present, for when we are present, we are serving wholeheartedly and doing our best in each job and every moment with each person, and in each situation with all our love.
In many situations, we exist but are not present, or we are present without all our hearts, and consequently, even though we serve others, we feel quite downcast with ourselves, being hopelessly lost, fearful and insecure.
We even bring others terrible loneliness and despair when they cannot find genuine sympathy and love in us.
Amid separation in life and parting in death, victims are so desperate for hands to touch them and take away their sense of loneliness because they have no loved ones beside them.
They demand heartfelt sympathy to ease the emptiness and despair. They also need prayers and tearful farewells so that they can feel light and peaceful to receive death.
It is religious to have and fully live this vocation of presence.Indeed, countless priests and religious have lived out this vocation to the fullest in sharing, listening to, sympathizing and supporting people in need with the love and affection of Christ.
St. Teresa Avila said that today, Christ looks at others with our eyes, loves others with our hearts, reaches out to others with our feet, and serves others with our hands.
The presence of priests and religious in pandemic-stricken places is a clear sign for people to realize that God is love and how Jesus loved to the end.
Capuchin Father Aquilino Apassiti, an 84-year-old hospital chaplain in Italy, said it is excruciatingly painful for him to bless coffins of Covid-19 victims without their loved ones who are in quarantine.
He said that he sets his mobile phone near the deceased so their loved ones on the other end can pray with him for them.
We cannot help being deeply moved and saddened by those images and feelings. Therefore, we should live to the fullest with those who need us. If we are not healthy enough, nor have an opportunity to serve victims in quarantine centers, we should be present with sufferers through constant and fervent prayer in every moment and breath.
We should share their agony and grief, come to their help in our prayer and Christian charity.
Our life is still peaceful so we should thank God and remember those who feel scared and insecure when they try to find a blast of air to breathe for life. Every morning getting up for a new day, we give sincere thanks to God and remember those people who no longer have an opportunity to welcome a new day because they have departed this life.
While we still have stable places to live, let's kindly offer help to people who are homeless, suffer prolonged starvation, and spend cold nights on pavements.
Our families remain safe and unharmed so we must thank God and remember those who lose their parents, spouses and children during the pandemic.
Every day we can praise God and receive the Eucharist so we can also say grateful thanks to God and remember the souls who long to come to God, worship and receive the Eucharist but cannot.
There are still so many other miserable and hard lives that we cannot describe in words.
Today, Christ still desperately wants people to be actively involved in the vocation of presence to fill other people who are in intolerable situations with his presence of love.
May his love and compassion always be and grow in us so that we always know how to reach down to touch those who need our sympathy, sharing and support.
This article was summarized and translated by a UCA News reporter from a Vietnamese article published on gpquinhon.org here.
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.