“The True Measure of Humanity….”

Pope Benedict XVI wrote the following in his encyclical Spe Salvi,

“The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer… A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through ‘com-passion’ is a cruel and inhuman society” (no. 38).

At the risk of sounding pessimistic, I do have a fear that more and more Catholic practitioners of health care are going to be in situations¬†with employers/ organizations where upholding the Church’s teachings on the dignity of human life will be more and more difficult, and they will be needing to make decisions as to whether they may have to leave the profession or seek employ elsewhere.¬† Our society is growing increasingly unwilling to embrace suffering as redemptive, and instead see it as devaluing the person who is afflicted and intolerable to family members who are faced with the suffering of a brother, sister, mother or father.

People never lose their dignity, their inherent worth as unique persons loved by God and created in His image. They are denied at times the kind of respect that would affirm that dignity, but they cannot lose their God-given dignity.

More and more, we are quantifying dignity. We are trying to measure it, document it, ration it. It no longer is a given. It no longer has inestimable worth in the eyes of all.

Until we can come to see the suffering of others as windows into which we enter the very life of Jesus, we will avoid it at all costs, and consider those so afflicted as less than worthy of our full attention and efforts.

Suffering is never sought for its own sake. (It is a result of original sin.) To heal the sick and to be present to the dying are acts of charity to which we are called. Suffering can and should lead to a life of love.

That is what Jesus did, and would do today.

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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