Love the Greatest Adventure: An Inquiry into Romeo and Juliet, Like Crazy and Brokeback Mountain

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Love is the greatest adventure.



Especially if we want to live our lives to the fullest.

 

It is the moment where true beauty overcomes our reason and will, our plans are torn to bits and choices get made and voilà, life happens. Though, it is possible that we can be seduced by what appears to be beauty, beauty is itself inseparable from the great leap.

 

Everyone knows the story: Romeo and Juliet, coming from opposing feudal families, should not have fallen in love, but they did! God bless em, it was a hard road.

 

I saw a movie once called Like Crazy that captured with accuracy the modern lover. Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, they fall in love. Their lives, however, are complicated, separated by boundaries, borders, and red tape. Anna is an English exchange student studying in America where she meets Jacob, a local resident. In the initial stages of their love they make the leap, and the process of creative destruction takes place. When Anna overstays her student visa and is subsequently barred from entering the United States, their relationship becomes all the the more difficult.

 

The barriers of their long distance relationship dismantles what appeared to be mutual self-gift.

 

Love without sacrifice, is not love.

 

Anna and Jacob had sparks, they seemed to be perfect for one another. But something was missing… no one dies at the end. Even when they are back together, they fail to see past the immediate problems, the obstacles. They both fail to make the leap that love is, the final leap, the leap that tears open to human heart so that it may become an abode in which the beloved may find a home.

 

You see, when children play at romance it is like a game of house. One puts the “wife” hat on, and then takes it off. The other puts the “husband” hat on, and then takes it off.

 

When adults live romance, people lose everything and gain everything in the same breath. People die and people make mistakes, but at least it is real.



True love is complete gift.

 

Look at the tragedy of Brokeback Mountain.

 

These men, so called lovers, would not give all of themselves to anyone, neither to their respective wives, nor to each other. It is not primarily a sad story because of the persecution; it is a sad story because love failed to give. Ennis would not die for Jack, and vice versa. No matter how good the sex was, without love, the story is heartbreaking; neither had the courage to give everything.

 

Do we?

 

Doubtless someone will say, “But if there wasn’t any persecution, they could have loved each other!”

 

Whoever thinks that the point of Romeo and Juliet was a denunciation of social boundaries misses the story completely.

 

True love crosses any threshold, any boundary, even at the risk of death.

 

If it will not risk death, it is not love.

 

Love, however, can also mean saying no.

 

Take Anna and Jacob who flitter between commitment and noncommitment. If circumstance or lack of capacity prevented them from the ultimate gift that their relationship seemed to be leading to, prevented them from making the great and final “I do,” then breaking it off would have been the most loving action possible.

 

To hold the beloved in the land of “maybe” is torture and selfish.

 

We cannot say no to commitment, total self gift, and yes to the beloved at the same time.

 

It is a contradiction which would inevitably destroy the beloved.

 

We see this very destruction in Brokeback Mountain. Families crumble, children are left without a stable environment in which to thrive, to grow up as beloved. It is heart wrenching and brutal, and the longer the “maybe” exists, the more intense the destruction becomes.

 

I am not, of course, speaking against a normal period of courtship in which two souls discern together whether or not they’ve found the one. For that discerning is two people journeying together towards a goal, and knowing that the wild and ultimate freedom of the other is operative. It is a productive time of “maybe” that finishes at the appropriate time with a “Yes” or a “No”, and no nonsense.

 

Just as with any great challenge that is worth doing, “half-hearted” just does not cut it. Why should love be any different?

All things being equal: a contrast between celibacy and sterilization

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I recently read a provoking article in the Metro newspaper, often found scattered about in our local buses and subway transit system. It is entitled “The mother of all double standards,” and it rallies against the medical system which it accuses of offering permanent sterilization for men more readily than for woman.

 

We are introduced to Andy Prosserman who, though he never got a vasectomy in his 20’s because he “knew that this would be irresponsible,” did in fact get one at the age of 30. While I was under the impression that the journey of self-knowledge takes a lifetime, apparently 30 was enough.

 

In lieu of having kids, Prosserman is seen posing, ready for his new life of liberty and indulgence: in one frame of a six part montage he is seen holding a bottle of Glenlivet 12 year old scotch, in another a Nintendo controller, and in yet another his passport.

 

When I looked at these images of what must be at least in part the ideal life of Prosserman, I could not help but be overwhelmed by a sense of deep regret for this man, for the trade that he has made.

 

My reaction can be explained by another incredible social phenomenon.

 

Do you ever wonder why Isis has managed to capture the imagination of so many youth?

 

It is because we live in a world that tells us that scotch and video games, in other words unlimited personal indulgence, is the pinnacle of our existence.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

If someone told me that the meaning of my life was to stuff my proverbial gullet with as many pleasures as humanly possible before I died, I would go join Isis too. At least they understand sacrifice on some level, though they have a very twisted idea of what that means. At least they understand what it means to serve a higher cause, even though what they call a higher cause is actually darkness and death.

 

Our brothers and sisters join Isis because at least in the sands of the middle east, or even within the borders of their own countries, these young souls looking for meaning can die for something, because even the illusion of a meaningful sacrifice is more tantalizing than the alternative.

 

Humanity is made in such a way so that our own gift of self to the point of self-sacrifice is the very pinnacle of our existence.

 

It is said that Jesus came, not to be served, but to serve.

 

Meanwhile, Prosserman is going to find at the bottom of his scotch bottle his own emptiness looking up at him. One day he will ask himself, “Surely there has got to be more than this.”

 

What is disturbing is that the author of the article, Sofi Papamarko, doesn’t give any concern whatsoever for the wellbeing and the interior life of these individuals. She does not so much as ask as to whether permanently destroying the body’s capacity to produce life is questionable.

 

Her only concern: equal access for men and women.

 

Think about what happens to a society that favours equal rights, or anything for that matter, over a love and appreciation of life.

 

In The Gospel of Life by Pope John Paul II, it is pointed at that “in the Old Testament, sterility is dreaded as a curse, while numerous offspring are viewed as a blessing.” (44) Nothing is more natural for living breathing beings than to bring life into this world, to continue their existence through their progeny.

 

From the eyes of this ancient Jewish people, we are all clamouring over one another to have equal access to a curse.

 

No one seems to care, just so long as access is equal.

 

Undoubtedly, at this point, someone will remind me that the majority of Catholic priests (there are some married Catholic priests) and all Catholic religious live celibately, which is to say they do not marry, nor have sex, nor have kids.

 

The first difference between sterilization and celibacy is sex.

Sterilization in modern western society has one purpose: to be able to have sex while undermining its natural result, which is children. They want the maximum pleasure, with the least responsibility. Turning the pursuit and goal of sex into pleasure, however, naturally cheapens it and makes it into yet another item for consumption. Thus, the love within flees before an ever greedy appetite for personal gratification, at no cost.

 

Celibacy, on the other hand, is focused towards giving life. A priest or religious does not renounce marriage, and by consequence sex and children, because they fear responsibility, or because “they know what they want.” They do it because they want to dedicate their lives in the deepest way possible to the glory of Christ, which brings life in the fullest sense possible.

 

Take the priesthood as an example:

 

The man who does not have the desire to be a father, should never be a priest.

 

For a priest becomes the father of all, the caretaker and the intercessor for every soul. If he lives out his vocation, he gives up the luxury of caring about himself, and learns to die daily for those he loves.

 

Likewise, I was once told that to become a contemplative monk in order to flee the chaos of the world was a terrible reason, and a false one. Those brave monks and nuns live cloistered lives so that their life may bring fruit in the world via their heartfelt prayers to the Divine who participates in all life.

 

The difference is enormous.

 

Prosserman sterilized himself so he could he could pleasure himself; celibate priests, monks, and nuns refrain from the beautiful earthly pleasures of marriage and children in order to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of others.

 

The former sees only himself, while the latter see everyone at once.

 

What greater form of equality is there than to see others before myself?

One Like Myself

It should be natural to look in the eyes of a loved one and see one like myself.

 

Provided this gaze is authentic love, it permits a moral awareness of the dignity, the inviolability of the other.

 

Slavery, existing throughout human history, has been/is possible due to the human capacity to stop seeing the other as myself. The Europeans saw the Africans as a “sub-race”, as non-human, which permitted them to enslave the latter without losing their feeling of rectitude. In response, the Civil Rights Movement made repeatedly one principal claim: we are equal in dignity.

 

Once equality is truly achieved, no honest person can continue such horrible violence towards his brother or sister.

 

The degradation of human beings is seen worldwide: the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany, the attempted eradication of the Tutsi by the Hutu in Rwanda, the enslavement of millions of children in, as is done in India or various countries in Africa, or the use of child soldiers, as was seen during the Sierra Leone Civil War. Today, Islamic extremists, whether from Isis, Boko Haram, or various other groups, spread a wave of death, hatred, and enslavement across the middle east and other inspired acts of violence spanning several continents.

 

What shocks is that human beings are capable of doing such things to other human beings. All made possible by a lack of empathy, compassion, and love.

 

Sadly, we are not free from this very dehumanization.

 

Abortion is the ultimate act of dehumanizing another person.

 

The duration of a life lasts from its beginning until its end, from conception to natural death. To stop that process from continuing at any point is to end a life. Thus, to stop the beating heart of a eighty year old man is no different than to stop the beating heart of a baby in the womb.

 

A life has been ended.

 

Ending a life arbitrarily is an act of murder.

 

Today a baby in the womb, who doesn’t have the qualities that we recognise as being fully human, can be killed, not only without repercussion, but even with financial aid from the government.

 

Abortion is only viable if we continue to say that a developing child is not human.

 

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Consider if we replaced a “foetus” with a one hour old child. Would any of the Pro-choice arguments make any sense at all?

Does a woman have the right to end her one hour old child’s life because she gave birth to that child, and it’s her body? Even if that child causes her stress and financial problems? Should a one hour old child be killed because they came from the unfortunate circumstances of a rape? Should a one hour old child be euthanised because they were born into poverty? If a woman harms herself in trying to end the life of her one hour old child, should we create programs to do it for her?

 

The conclusion of these questions evoke disgust, who could possibly support them?

 

Yet the only difference between a baby who is still a foetus and a one hour old child is whether or not we attribute humanity to them.

 

Apparently, the foetus is too undeveloped to be human.

 

Apparently, the foetus doesn’t have enough sensation or intellectual processing to be human.

 

Today we look back at slavery and are astonished at how it was possible for one person to look at another and ignore completely their humanity and, as a result, treat them with brutality and indifference.

 

I pray for the day when we will be human enough to look back and say, “How could we have murdered our own children?”

 

Take Courage

 

Whoever denies their need for the mercy of God, denies the very air they seek to breathe.

 

Even beyond this the question is absolutely outside the realm of what we need, though we do need it! It should be known that any who understands the mercy of God desires it more than the air they breathe.

 

The perfect mother but only shadowed the tenderness which awaits the repentant heart. He tells us, “Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” The caring affection of a grandmother is like a small stream compared to the vast flowing currents contained in the oceans of God’s care for His children.

 

Our everyday experience of hatred, darkness, betrayal, ignorance, disgust, and apathy are constant pointers in the opposite direction. If these evils assails us, there must be their opposite to relieve.

 

Sadly, many despair of the hope this world can give and relinquish themselves to this darkness which poisons.

 

For many it seems easier to hold on to a lie, than to face the pain of changing, admitting fault.

 

Resist the wholesale apathy which the world sells today. It is a lie and a detestable one. One which claims that human beings are not worth more than their subjective experience of pleasure. One which claims that our hearts are nothing more than the beating of flesh and blood, and certainly not a sign of the life-force which is pumped into us from the divine source, from our divine Father.

 

Take courage.NmnKzKIyQsyGIkFjiNsb_20140717_212636-3

 

The darkness is weak, it will always flee before the light. Darkness can never consume light where it resides. With that said, it is ours to invite the light, to embrace it.

 

Have you ever had the experience of finally overcoming ego and pride to forgive one who may not even have deserved forgiveness? Did you feel the lightheartedness, the release, the peace which followed such an action? For one who forgives, there is no wound that can overwhelm.

 

No amount of destruction could outmatch one pure act of love, sprouting from the plenitude of God’s mercy. Not even death can overcome love. For we look everyday to the saints who died, who were murdered in often times brutal forms, with forgiveness being the last gift released from their pure hearts. Still they hold us in loving concern.

 

They forgive their executioners.

The agents of their death. They do this because they know the plenitude of God’s love for which they willingly take up this sacrifice.

 

If it is abundance you seek, then you need God’s mercy. If you seek security, God is the only totally trustworthy being in the universe. If it is affluence you seek, I cannot even begin to describe the splendour of the heavenly riches given to us through a small act of compassion!

 

To claim that we can have compassion without God, is no different than to claim that we can have life without oxygen. All the while taking in its sustenance, even to claim those very words. This is but another example of God’s compassion who gives his gifts even to those who reject Him.

 

What must a person do to find this love, this mercy, this fatherly care?

 

To say nothing more than: “Papa, I’m here. I’ve missed you.”

Suffering (Part 3 of 3): God Will Never Test You Beyond Your Strength

torn_copyPain is awful.
 

Suffering can be unbearable, and unthinkable. Especially when the source of our torment is the suffering of someone we love, like our children, the discomfort can be extraordinary.
 

There is within scripture and Christian tradition the idea the God will never give us more pain, or a greater trial than we can handle.
 

Recently I noticed a couple articles online which argued the opposite: that God will overwhelm us.
 

In order to believe this a person must hold a very narrow interpretation and understanding of the commonly cited quote from 1 Corinthians 10, “God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength.” Beyond that, if we take two known characteristics of God, that He is both all-powerful and all-loving, then this also supports the notion that God would never test us beyond our limit.
 

Within suffering, powerlessness rears its ugly head. Our limitations and finiteness become apparent. That can be a terrifying realisation, but one from which the greatest drop of truth is born. In our helplessness comes the knowledge of our need for help, for divine assistance.
 

Those who seek to fight the crashing waves of suffering on their own are inevitably crushed and thrown about. Though a person may survive the onslaught, they emerge with jadedness, with anger. Either that, or they emerge with a dwelling attachment to suffering and the battle that surrounds it.
 

When you suffer, beg the Lord of all mercies for help!
 

He will come to your aid.
 

Not in the way you might expect or want, but He will come.
 

Do not forget, reliance on God is not a one off, once and done kind of deal.
 

Relying on God in our suffering means repeated prayers, a constant personal reminding, a striving to turn again and again, back towards He who can give peace in the world’s worst turmoil.
 

God will never give you more than you can handle.
 

Our human strength is frail, it is inevitably empty.
 

If it is our own strength which we seek to rely upon, then yes, we will encounter trials which are too great.

 

God always offers the grace, but it is up to us, the receivers, to accept it.
 

Like a tool with no one to wield it, without acceptance grace is impotent.
 

The notion that God will give us more than we can handle is a flawed one which extols the “glory” or significance of our suffering above God’s grace and love. Even if, as most of these articles point out, being overwhelmed leads to the knowledge that we need God.
 

One man claimed that this promise is not in scripture and remarks that the line from 1 Corinthians 10:13 is about temptation and not suffering. It is actually about both:
 

God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.”
 

In every form of suffering we have a choice: to rely on our own strength, or to trust in God’s.
 

To rely on our own is a temptation, and a serious one because it can lead to despair, the greatest separation from God’s mercy. It is pride that motivates us to shirk God’s help, and it is from this pride that God gives us ‘a way out’. The choices we make during our suffering is exactly what Paul is writing about. He asks us to trust God.
 

Trust placed in God is never in vain.
 

If we only trust Him so that the world may unfold in our image, it is folly.
 

Some struggle just to be able to accept that good may come from suffering. Those who can accept this reality often endure suffering only because they have their own notion of what they hope to accomplish through it. It is no wonder then, that the pain becomes too much, because they hope for something which has never been promised.
 

When we plan out for ourselves what good things we will receive from our suffering, we will be overcome. When we seek to embrace suffering only on a temporary basis; we will be overcome. When we attempt to utilize suffering for our own ends; we will be overcome.
 

Only when we embrace suffering with complete openness and abandonment to God’s mercy, plan, and love, will we have the grace–and as a result the strength–to endure anything.
 

‘God will give you more than you can handle is satan’s motto.
 

He spreads this notion because he wants people to lose absolute trust in God’s goodness.
 

For a God who delivers His followers into snares from which they cannot escape is either not loving or not powerful enough to deliver them.
 

The evil one glosses over this lie with notions of compassion and understanding. He whispers that if we don’t acknowledge the lie we are not compassionate towards those who suffer. When if fact, we steal from those suffering the very tool to find help immediately, not after defeat.
 

One author introduced the idea that Jesus had claimed that the passion was too much for Him, that in His agony in the garden he paraphrased this to God. Nothing could be further from the truth.
 

And He went al ittle beyong them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
 

Shortly after He continues, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.”
 

If it was too much, Jesus would have fled. He would not have given His will up to that of His Father.
 

Instead, Jesus handed Himself over to his own crucifixion. He who could have called legions of angels to his assistance. Instead He humbled Himself to embrace torture, beatings, slander, and eventually death. It was not too much, because Christ allowed it to happen, he willingly participated in his own execution.
 

The immensity of Christ’s suffering should never be confused with a bowing of His will before the pain.
 

In imitating Christ, we must all willingly lay down our lives in our sufferings. Our emotional reaction to suffering does not have to become our actions. We must acknowledge that without God our trials are too much, but with Him, in God’s love, we can do everything. God never gives us more than we can handle, because he also supplies the grace.
 

While staying at a community in Ontario I was suffering under immense pain and confusion. To find help I asked a question to three of the communities leaders: “What do you do if you’re overwhelmed?”
 

They responded, “Stop relying on yourself.
 

It is time to draw ourselves up, out of self-pity, and into God’s love!
 

Suffering is the precursor to glory if we remain in His grace!
 

Do not lose heart, but bear your afflictions with joy. For He who has created the universe, He who has risen from the dead, will also carry you through your current hardships and into a life so resplendent and glorious that this current moment of suffering will seem like a distant, faded memory.file8781234480355

Suffering (Part 2 of 3): If God is so Good, Why do People Suffer?

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If your a sucker for repetition, look into a video or online story about a great tragedy in which either the author, or a commenter, thanks God for the salvation of the people involved.
 

If the article is broadly popular soon after you will see comments like, “If God is so good for saving this one person, why did he let the others die?” Or, “If God is loving and all powerful why did he let this tragedy happen in the first place?”
 

Rather than being genuine curiosities, these comments are sucker punches directed at the weak stomach of a suffering soul.
 

This ridicule is lacking in a proper understanding of human life. Those who wield them fail to fully include all elements of their own argument.
 

If God exists and is all loving and all powerful, as we Christians claim, then the reality of the soul is a fact. If the soul does exist then eternal life is a question of real importance. Thus, if God truly loves us, which we believe, then His chief concern is our eternal life, above all else.
 

That means that freedom from suffering and death are part, but not all of, the life of the soul, which is eternal by nature.
 

This very reality was exemplified by the God we believe in.
 

Not only does he treat us as a parent lovingly treats a child, but He went one step further and lived out suffering as we must.
 

Christ is the living example of pure goodness, pure love. What did He receive for being the unblemished lamb? Death, brutal death, at the hands of the Sanhedrin and the Romans. Where was our supposedly good God then?
 

For Christians the crucifixion is not the end of the story, but the beginning:
 

This saga calls us to a greater intimacy, a greater understanding of this mysterious and often ridiculed God.
 

To heal only our physical sufferings but to pay no attention to our spiritual maladies is akin to curing the symptoms of serious disease but ignoring the disease itself. It may feel better for a time, but in the end the patient is far worse off.
 

Thus, forgiveness trumps relief from suffering every time.
 

Forgiveness brings intimacy and relationship. It brings the possibility of reunion which, since God is who we claim He is, is the most important aspect of every human being’s life.
 

Christ endured more suffering then can be imagined.
 

He was the only person who actually had no guilt, who actually deserved no punishment, let alone capital punishment.
 

He endured this suffering because there is something greater then relief from pain.
 

He endured this suffering so we might know freedom from the deepest pains of the human heart, those which are indescribable, and far worse than any external tragedy could bring.
 

Most parents, whether they are religious or not, understand the importance of attending to the greatest good. Parents will deny their children what they want, causing suffering to their children temporarily, knowing that a spoiled child will suffer tremendously in the future, something far worse then this mild discomfort that is occurring in this moment.
 

We all know that a parent who caves in too often will spoil the child, and this is not love. It is a form of selfishness because the parent caters to their own anxiety and not to the needs of the child.
 

If God merely relieved us from every physical discomfort, it would actually spoil us into decadence while our spiritual life careened out of control. It would cast into jeopardy the most valuable treasure any human has: relationship with Him. Because God exists, death is not nearly as final as it would seem. It means that death is a transition and not an ending, which means that our human understanding of what death is, is incomplete.
 

Though it can be unbearable as we remember those we’ve lost, those who die are not lost to us. If God would allow any human person to die in a world where death is final, He would be a lie.
 

But if death is only the gate through which we enter into His presence, then who’s to say death is ultimately bad?
 

Any person who attempts to undermine the belief of another with the argument “If God is… , then why does this happen,” would be wise to consider fully just what life with God means. There comes a time in every believers life when this very question arises, and it is an important question to flesh out. When it is born through a genuine hunger for understanding, amazing beauty comes from this query.
 

When it is wielded as an assault on the beliefs of others, or as an idle thought in an otherwise unconcerned mind, it serves no purpose.
 

As a good parent hates to see their child suffer, but may allow it for the good of that very child, so we may rest assured that God only ever allows suffering if it is for the greatest good of our own our hearts and souls.

Suffering (Part 1 of 3): The Man on the Bench

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Our response to suffering speaks volumes about our interior state.
 

It reveals how we see others, ourselves; the needs of others, compared to our own desires.
 

Here I wish to reference a difficult experience I had after a shift at work which lasted into the night.
 

Tired, I walked over to a bus shelter and noticed a man sitting in an awkward position on a bench across the street. After watching for a little while it was easy to see that he was unconscious.
 

What happened next shook me deeply: it both showed how callous we can be towards our brothers and sisters, but also revealed my own coldness towards their suffering.
 

First, I noticed how a group of people standing nearby totally ignored his presence.
 

Second, a couple walked up and sat beside him; the woman proceeded to rifle through his pockets and remove their contents.
 

Afterward, they left.
 

Third. When I asked if the group nearby knew him, two women came over. One said, “Hey that looks like Rick, is that Rick?” By this point the man had fallen from the bench onto the ground. She kicked him over so his face was upwards; it wasn’t Rick.
 

They left laughing.
 

Fourth. A woman stopped by when she saw me stooped by his side and asked, “Is he ok?” I replied I didn’t know, I didn’t think so.” So she said, “I think he’s just resting!” with a hint of positivity. I just shook my head, disgruntled, “I think it’s worse than that.”
 

Fifth. A man with a bicycle stopped now and asked if he could help. He proceeded to hit the man with his bike tire repeatedly in attempts to awake him. He then force fed him some liquids and placed the limp man in a terrible position on the bench. When he heard police sirens nearby, he suddenly fled.
 

Sixth, seemingly the only beautiful witness was a teenager who stopped by and asked with a look of concern if everything was Ok. When I told him I’d already called an ambulance he smiled apologetically and left.
 

Seventh. The woman who robbed the unconscious man returned. She sat around asking me for a smoke, or if I had a light while I was trying to talk with the paramedics on the phone.
 

The ambulance arrived in good time and they told my help was no longer needed, so I left.
 

Upon reflecting on this incident later I realised that each person who stopped by represented a different internal state, most of which I have held myself at one time or another in my life.
 

The first people who just ignored him represented those with hearts which have never been lit aflame with sacrificial love. They saw no personal gain, and only annoyance in going to help the man. He was simply not worth their time.
 

Admittedly, this was my first reaction.
 

Love which cannot sacrifice, is not love at all.
 

The woman who robbed him represents all the times that we take advantage of those we love when they are vulnerable.
 

Whether we use subtle social pressure to get our own way, or by taking from the other intimacy that was never given. We have all, at one time or another, used the predicament of another person for our own selfish gain.
 

The fourth woman who stopped to offer the suggestion that, “Maybe he’s just sleeping!” represents our tendency to gloss over real suffering with happy-go-lucky slogans and meaningless cheer.
 

Every time we shrug off the very real suffering of another with pseudo-positivity, we offer them a cold shoulder as relief from their pain.
 

Pop psychologists love this kind of advice. They tell us that to improve our lives and eradicate our struggles we need only think happy thoughts or eat more green things!
 

The kind of love that lifts the burden of the other involves lifting a heavy, cumbersome, and precious cross.
 

It involves most importantly, entering into the pain of the other.
 

The man on the bicycle represents a curious middle ground. He was totally willing to help, but having no expertise about how exactly to help, did what was eventually totally unhelpful. His intention was there, but his lack of expertise and knowledge only served to worsen the situation. It is safe to say that spending time discerning whether our interventions are really helping a given situation would be fruitful time to spend indeed!
 

Knowing when we have the capacity to make a difference, and when our inexperience will lead the situation into an even greater problem than the first, is true wisdom.
 

I left that night on my bus, significantly later and more tired then I had expected, and thought about what had just happened. I was one step away from simply ignoring the situation and leaving without a second thought. When I witnessed my own reluctance to help the helpless, it shocked me most of all.
 

It motivated a serious reflection:
 

Where is my compassion?: I who claim to be a Catholic, devoted to Love itself.
Why was I so eager to leave this man to his lot in life? To be the unconcerned passerby in the story of the Good Samaritan?
 

As a Catholic I also identify with the fact that the risen Christ is present in every human being: to abandon any man or woman is to abandon Christ himself.
 

If I claim to care about humanity, while ignoring the very real suffering of those I know, see, and encounter, I am a liar, a hypocrite.
 

There should be no suffering in this world so foreign to me that I will be unwilling to at least acknowledge the struggle and the pain, to offer my presence and self-less gift.
 

May God kindle and fan the flames within our hearts to burn with compassion for all our brothers and sisters.