Over the course of summer, I received a couple of emails from the NHS encouraging those who are able to donate blood, as hospitals struggle with their blood supply. I find blood donating to be an exceptional act of altruism: there you are, willingly letting someone stick a needle in you and take ~10% of your life-blood, knowing that your arm will be sore and you will feel a bit weak for a day or two after. Doing this might require you to clear your schedule for 2-3 hours, and you get no money or reimbursement out of it… no reward at all except for the knowledge that by doing this, you’ve given another person a chance to live: someone who is undergoing surgery or other emergency, or in childbirth, or undergoing cancer or blood treatments, or is dying, etc (apparently one donation can save up to 3 lives!) It doesn’t just stop with blood donation – my best friend wouldn’t be alive today if someone didn’t donate a kidney for her. Another friend survived leukaemia because a complete stranger from the other side of the world donated their bone marrow (a rather tricky and painful process!) when they knew their DNA matched someone in need. The stories are endless…
Each donor willingly signed up to give up something of themselves and undergo certain amount of pain, suffering and inconvenience, in order that another person (often a stranger) might live. Is this not imitating Christ in a very concrete way, the Son of Manwho came ‘to give his life as a ransom for many’ ? (Mk 10:45)
We know that Jesus did not want his people to suffer.
He fed the hungry, healed the sick, blind, lame, deaf etc, accepted those who were rejected and suffered loneliness, comforted those who mourned, and gave hope and strength to all. In doing so, he was often hungry, tired, rejected and in pain himself, but he suffered willingly in, for and out of love. When Isaiah proclaims in the first reading that ‘the Lord has been pleased to crush his servant with suffering’, he was not referring to suffering in itself for the sake of it, but the kind of suffering which is born in and with love, and which gives fruit of love in others. It is this kind of suffering which pleases God.
On the other hand, often reality brings its own suffering which doesn’t give life, we don’t choose it nor can we escape from it. Perhaps we can offer them instead and ask the Lord to help us live it in trust and love, that he may transform it into Life for others…
Have a blessed week and stay safe! Sr. Devy