"Are you sick? I am also sick." Writing in the With Bible magazine a teacher, author, and student of life meditates on the words above, words of a drama he remembers. The words expressed the love between two people, its depth, and breadth, words we do not often hear.
When he first heard the phrase Shakespeare came to mind and the tragedy of King Lear. The king was deceived by the sweet words of his two eldest daughters and he gave them the kingdom and all his possession only to be betrayed. When he lost all his power, angry, alone and without help-- was when he understood his situation. He was left only with two faithful subjects but began to understand the suffering of others.
To his faithful court jester, he says: "Come close, friend, you must be cold, I am also cold." Now that his situation has changed what he didn't see in the past he now sees and his heart is moved. Poverty has a great power for it allows one to see the humble things in life with different eyes.
At present one of the big problems with the upper one percent of the population is they don't see the suffering of the other members of society. They do not sympathize with those hurting but only think of ways to fill their own pockets.
Scriptures are filled with the mercy that Jesus showed those who were hurting. His first miracle showed concern for a married couple and their guests when they ran out of wine. The writer feels this was not unrelated to the coldness he felt from the authorities in society.
Ten percent of the population possess half of the wealth of the nation. With time this will increase and yet no thought of fixing the situation. Moreover, the top one percent are making the laws and monopolizing the benefits.
The middle class has for decades lost its place in society and we have no clear understanding of the crisis. And the Church is under the illusion that we are becoming middle class.
This ability to empathize comes not with connections with the top levels of society but with the lowest. The one who loves feels oneness with the other. Love feels pain, understands the hurt, consoles and gives strength.
He asks the readers if that is the way they love. Is this the way the Church loves? We attend Mass, pray and serve others, and it is not to receive compensation but to receive joy in loving and serving. This is the message of the Gospel. And yet at times our faith life borders on shamanism were we become sponsors to authority and money.
We know what Jesus wants from us (Luke 4, 18-19). He wants us to be free and yet we are bound by attachment, exploitation, neglect, oppression, distortion, and ideology. When a minister or priest is sent to an area where the people are well off the message is softened, not to upset the hearers. The fear of alienating the wealthy and losing them is always present.This is not the Church but a shrine worshiping a fetishistic religion.
When we are showing mercy and are empathetic to others we are already practicing half of the Gospel message. "Are you sick? I am also sick." To live this life we have to continually check to see if others are sick or well. This is love this is the Gospel. When we see others liberated from their pain this is happiness that comes from love.