Come to me,
all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11: 28
The last few days I have felt burdened. Last Saturday I gave a ride to the Santa Rosa hospital to a women who had been hacked with a machete by her husband. I found out yesterday that he had tried to harm her the day before. She has been transferred to a hospital in San Pedro Sula and that her lower arm and hand had been amputated.
I wish I could have helped more.
But I also feel burdened by the many types of violence that people experience here. This woman experienced domestic violence, which is not uncommon. Many people have not been raised with the skills of dealing with conflict and are all too easily frustrated. There is also the violence of revenge that is related to the lack of a justice system that responds to crimes. There is also the violence of poverty that leaves people without medical care, without a good educational system, with unemployment – a violence that can be traced to massive inequality here and throughout the world and to structures of injustice.
Violence – all too much violence.
And so I bring this to Jesus – and seek to take upon myself His yoke of love, of compassion, of solidarity with the poor.
I also remember today the death of Fray Bartolomé de las Casas in 1566. He was a sixteenth century Dominican who became a defender of the native peoples in the Americas.
He once wrote in a tract to the Spanish authorities:
All of us, therefore, great and small, educated, uneducated, ruler and ruled, public or private individual, all of us are bound unconditionally to help the oppressed, to help those suffering under violence, injury, any evil, with whatever power we have, official or personal. We are bound to free them, both by the law of nature and the law of charity.
We are bound, yoked to the poor of this world.
At times this feels like a heavy burden. But then I need to place this concern, and the people who suffer, in the arms of Jesus.
I do not leave them there but remember that I am called to be the arms of Jesus to those I meet.
As St. Teresa of Avila wrote:
Christ has no body on earth but yours;
no hands on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks out
with compassion on the world.
Yours are the feet with which he chooses
to go about doing good.
For as He is the Head of the Body,
so you are the members;
and we are all one in Christ.