Kolkata (AsiaNews) – In these days of lent and Holy Week my thoughts are on a patient suffering from Recurrent Cryptococcal meningitis. Cryptococcal meningitis is a common late complication of HIV and is the commonest fungal infection of the central nervous system in AIDS. I have seen many AIDS patients suffering from this disease.
This patient has suffered terribly from headaches, confusion, irritability, blurred vision and unsteady gait. Each day visiting him in the hospital and seeing his suffering body reminds me of the suffering Christ of today.
In the midst of his suffering and helplessness the immediate action is like that of Mary of Bethany anointing the feet of Jesus to say - you are wanted, you are loved, I want you to live and have life.
A good action in love can not forgotten. It has to be proclaimed because it is life giving. There is a Rabbinic saying - "Good ointment spreads from the bedroom into the dining room but a good name from one end of the world to the other." The love of Mary of Bethany and her action for Jesus was not forgotten but rewarded her with the grace of the revelation of the Risen Lord. She was the first Easter woman to met the risen Jesus.
I started the year 2010 with the suffering of many people around me. I’ve met so many men and women who are suffering. Some of them have died and some of them are still continue to live. But in the midst of suffering and death, I have come to know many men and women who are willing to stay very close to the suffering people.
Late in the evening of 9th March I visited Rinku who was dying in our home in for women "Shanti Dan". She had been suffering for a long period of time. What touched me most was the care and availability of other women who are also sick and yet attended to her needs. They all loved Rinku and they sat very close to her and watched her every breath. They all stood very close to Rinku with their helplessness and deep sorrow. They did not allow Rinku to die alone and they were like the women at the foot of the Cross of Jesus watching the death of Jesus. Rinku died on 10th March in the company of her friends.
In the midst of suffering, there are always people who come to give life. It is a mystery how suffering can bring people close to each other. It is very often women who come first to help and console people who are suffering. Women are blessed with the natural gift of compassion.
I was also thinking about the earthquake in Haiti on January 12 and what happened to the Missionary of Charity Brothers and Sisters there. I feel God is speaking to all of us through this very powerful disaster of human life and property.
Thousands of people died and their houses collapsed. Many priest and religious died. But it turned out that none of our Sisters or Brothers were hurt, nor any of the patients in the care of the sisters and brothers at the time of the earthquake. A priest in Haiti says - "God has preserved the Missionary of Charity Sisters and Brothers so that they can be here for His people in their great time of need."
These words of the priest reminds of the words Joseph spoke to his brothers in the Old Testament, "God sent me before you to preserve life."
Holy week is a time to stay with Jesus in his suffering and resurrection. It is a mystery of staying in love. It is in love Jesus suffered and it is in love God raised Jesus from death to preserve the life of each one of us. The same Jesus continues to preserve the life of the needy through each one of us and thus He makes us Easter people.
Those women who stood very close to Rinku and watched her breathing, and those Missionary of Charity sisters and brothers who are giving themselves to the needy in Haiti are Easter women and men. They know the joy of being close to the suffering people and to experience the wonders of the Lord and sing Allelluia.
I wish you all a grace-filled Easter and the peace and Joy of the Risen Lord.
* Brother Yesu Das is a Missionary of Charity, the order of men religious wanted by Mother Teresa of Calcutta. He works at Shanti Dan (Gift of Peace) home in Calcutta. Last September Brother Yesu Das, preached the spiritual exercises at a Cor Unum, gathering in Taipei (Taiwan).