The theme of the Penang Diocesan Lenten Campaign, “Lend a hand” for this year is very appropriate and thought provoking and it should to stir the hearts of the people to do something not just during this coming Lent season throughout the year.
POHD slogan for Lenten Campaign 2008
The words of Jesus “I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mathew 25:40) should be a reminder to us that Jesus dwells in those around us, especially the needy and the destitute. We will only be cheating ourselves if we say we love Jesus while refusing to lend a hand to those around us.
Many of us remember Lent as a time for fasting, abstinence, way of the cross, almsgiving and penance. Many too consider the Lenten campaign as a means of raising funds for the poor. We become very generous during this season and donate graciously towards this fund. These may nevertheless be some of the ways of observing Lent but there is much more to Lent than just donating generously for the poor and denying ourselves of some pleasures in life.
The Penang Office of Human Development (POHD) has rightly come up with the theme “Lend a hand” for Lent this year. It is a reminder for us that Lent is just not all about fasting, penance and giving alms. It surpasses all these and encompasses the offering of our hands of friendship and love to those around us.
Everyone around us is “poor” in some way as they are silently suffering from some form of ailment either physical or mental; serious illness,loneliness,loss of loved ones, financial problems, failures in career, failures in love,persecution,denial of basic rights and freedom, and the list is in fact endless. It should be our hands of friendship that could help to alleviate their suffering. We may not be in a position to totally eradicate their “poverty”, only God can do that, but I am sure we can do the little within our means to reduce their pain and agony.
One of the things that caught my attention recently is the plight of the elderly. Elderly people are everywhere, in hospitals, in our parish, our BECs, in the homes of our relatives and friends, in the numerous homes for the aged, and very significantly in our own homes. It is sad that have become captives in their own homes by being solitarily confined.
These senior citizens could have had very successful lives when they were young but all of them succumb to the greatest fear of man as they advance into the twilight years of their lives – LONELINESS. Yes the fear of loneliness is the greatest fear of man, however great he could have been at the prime of his life. Many are lonely in their own homes despite being surrounded by children and grandchildren, as the latter have little time to spare for their old folks. They seem to have become totally irrelevant in the lives of the young.
Most of these elderly do not need our money, food or gifts on special occasions but what they really long for is our love, our touch and our company. Ironically we are willing to give them money, food, shelter, expensive gifts and elaborate nursing care but not the love and company they yearn for.
Let make this season of Lent the beginning of being more aware of the needs of those around us, especially those who are suffering in loneliness. Let’s lend a hand to someone who is lonely and at the brink of death. Let’s start with those lonely in our own families especially our elderly parents. Let’s be generous and gracious not just with our money but also with our precious time that money cannot buy.
We may be having a tough time ourselves coping with all the stresses in life to make ends meet. We may have terrible problems of our own to handle, with our spouse, our children, our work, our financial difficulties, our illness and so on, but amidst all these let us find some time for those who are gripped with the fear of loneliness, those in the twilight of their lives. If we can do that to one of these least brothers of His, we will be doing it for Him.