Dear friends in Christ,
Recently I accompanied a family in mourning who had lost a loved one. It was a tragic case of an untimely death of a relatively young man through an overdose. He had been in and out of prison and had not been served all that well by the various social agencies existing to help people like this unfortunate man. At the funeral, I felt it important to stress that even though this man had become for society just another statistic of suicide through drug overdose, his life really mattered! This is the Lord’s heart.
While leading prayer recently before the Blessed Sacrament in an international campaign of intercession for the people in India suffering from Covid-19, I felt the same conviction. So many thousands are dying lonely deaths, bereft of family and friends, as they slowly and painfully breathe their last. As I was before the Lord, seeking his heart for these people, again I felt that strong conviction that each one of these people who die, even though they are totally unknown except to a few, and their lives may not have seemingly achieved much, they are precious in the sight of God, and he loves them intensely. Each one’s life matters to God. And consequently, each one’s life must matter to us, who seek to have the heart of God.
Statistics do not tell the story. Each individual person is unique, unrepeatable and irreplaceable. Even in better times when I visited India, I had a similar feeling as I mingled amongst the seething crowds of seemingly anonymous humanity. The heart of the Lord is for each individual person who has inestimable worth and dignity. Each person has a name which is sacred. Like everyone else, I need to correct my heart from becoming indifferent towards suffering, or from succumbing to compassion fatigue. Behind every horrific news story which appears on our screens, or fills the pages of our newspapers, are real human persons, created in the image and likeness of God, redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus. When Jesus hung on the Cross, he held each one in his heart. He is the redeemer of every human person, past, present and future.
I have often reflected on Jesus looking out over the crowds as recorded in the gospel. We are told he was deeply moved, his heart was wrenched, as he gazed upon them, because they were “harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt9:36). Jesus was not doing a statistical analysis of tragedy, nor was he blithely philosophical about the predicament of the crowds. Rather he was moved for each individual who he loved intensely and for whom he was to suffer and die that they may have eternal peace. May we never forget that the life of each human person really matters.
Blessings to you all,