The sick need only one language: love. Christmas “reminds us that we are a family”. For missionary, “if we allow the light of God to penetrate our hearts and see the other in the divine light - it is Christmas.”
Kolkata (AsiaNews) – Brother Yesudas is a missionary of Charity, the order founded by Mother Teresa of Kolkata. In a letter for Christmas, which we publish in its entirety, he talks about his six years at Karuna Bhavan, a facility for mentally disabled men.
In his missive, he writes that “Christmas remind us that we are a family [. . .] led to recognize God in each other, and learn to look at each other in the light of grace and through the eyes of God.”
Screams, insults and confusion fill his days, especially when residents wash. But from this his faith has grown. The former understand only one language, that of love. God "calls us to create in us a sanctuary of love.”
As I sit to write this letter, from the window I could see the New Karuna Bhavan building and our people standing in the portico of the first floor and welcoming our helpers who are coming in the morning for their duty. They call them by name and some of the run to welcome them. They have missed them during the night and now they are happy to have them again. Each brother and each helper is a loving presence to them.
Our people here in Karuna Bhavan are all mentally ill. Mental illness pushes people into fear, gloom, isolation and nothingness breaking down their spirit, destroying their mental capacity and grabbing away from them the courage to face life. Life is hard for them because they don't understand what is going with in them. Their dilapidated psychic state can understand only one language - belonging in love. Only love can reunify them with their soul, infuse hope, and give a new meaning to their life. This needs people who make a journey with them in faith, a faith in God among us, with us and in us. This journey is always Christmas.
What I noticed in my life of faith journey for last 6 years here at many times it was a matter of struggle, lack of support, failure and discouragement. It is like as I look at the apostolate in Karuna Bhavan. Many of our men here are with chronic mental illness, they abuse us, they make a mess in the morning and we wash and clean them, they make again a mess and we wash them and clean them and it goes on . . . Yet the process of washing and cleaning also involves times of great encouragement, joy and hope. I also discovered it is also a time of impatience, discouragement and anger that disturbing me. It is from all these my faith was growing for last six years. For me faith is a matter of dailiness and offering all aspects of my lives to God. I believe our God is an incarnational God. He is among us, in us, with us. He reveals things we have forgotten. He calls us to create in us a sanctuary of love, a conducive environment in and around us where people who are mentally ill is accepted and loved. They feel a sense of belonging to a family. In rebuilding Karuna Bhavan to create this environment was our main concern.
Christmas remind us that we are a family. This is what brothers and our helpers try to create in our life with these is mentally ill men. In this family we are called to recognize God in each other, and learn to look at each other in the light of grace and through the eyes of God. Our hard attitude towards one another will melt away if we allow God to lead us to the house of each other, if we allow the light of God to penetrate our hearts and see the other in the divine light - it is Christmas.
Christmas has many things to teach us - it is God with us in our dailiness - to be in the present - it calls us to drop past regret and future worries just live in the moment. It is a time to forget the bickering and negativities that have happened through the year. It calls us to welcome a new beginning in silence. Feast of Christmas is not noisy, it is very personal opening of ones heart to God who is among us, with us and in us.
So there is a sacredness in this celebration, a time to show one's gratitude to God for being with us. But it needs faith, if we don't make a faith journey Christmas comes only once a year but for the one who make the faith journey in dailiness every moment and every day is a Christmas.
Christmas gives us a chance to pause and be grateful for all that we've been blessed with. For me, the true spirit of Christmas is in giving. It is God giving His Son in love for the world and our giving to the creator and to our family members and friends. I believe in this giving our lives become better and enriched and fill us with Joy.
May this Christmas and coming New Year be a giving of our lives to God and to others.
ALL OF US IN KARUNA BHAVAN WISH YOU ALL A HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND GRACE-FILLED NEW YEAR.
With Love and Light.
*A missionary of Charity who lives at the Karuna Bhavan (peace sanctuary) in Kolkata