The joy of going to the peripheries
Visiting Ailing Patients in Clinic Provides Valuable Lessons in God’s Love
Sisters visit a patient at Thien An Clinic in Dong Nai Province. (Photo: tgpsaigon.net)
It is truly fortunate that many religious students like me have gained valuable and enriching experiences this summer after months of hard work at an institute for religious in Ho Chi Minh City.
We stepped out of our safe and familiar places and visited patients at the Thien An Clinic run by the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God in neighboring Dong Nai Province.
We had the opportunity to encounter the suffering of Christ in the patients and they seemed quite friendly, warm and close to us although we had never met them before.
It is a miracle that comes from hearts full of love. It is love, the thread that binds strangers together as friends and children in the great human family.
We have brought nothing but the love of Christ which leads us to love them. We comforted them, spoke with them and their loved ones, and listened carefully to their joys and sorrows.
Everyone has their own situation and pain that only Jesus Christ can soothe and heal. The clinic’s patients come from all walks of life, old and young, Christians and other religions.
“Sisters, you are blessed for entering religious life. In lay life, people are very ruthless and hastily abandon their spouses who are seriously ill”
Seeing and listening to their confidences, I realized that they suffered not only from physical illnesses, but also from pains in the soul.
A funny man in his early 50s who takes care of his relative told us: “Sisters, you are blessed for entering religious life. who are seriously ill.”
I replied, “There are only a few but in most cases, many remain absolutely loyal to each other under such circumstances.”
He took us to meet a male patient who was skin and bones called tuong chiu nan or “crucifixion statue” by others in the clinic.
My heart sank a little when I saw the emaciated patient lying motionless in his bed next to his venerable mother. His name is Nhat Tai.
His mother said her 37-year-old son suffered a massive electric shock 11 years ago and was completely paralyzed. His wife and son soon abandoned him after the accident.
“There is no greater pain than being abandoned by those they love and swear to spend the rest of their lives with while in a terrible state of illness”
The poor man has only his mother, who lavishes him with great care. She does everything with as much dedication and thoughtfulness as possible.
She said that although Tai doesn’t say anything, she can see what he wants and how he is through his eyes.
She said she had two children and didn’t want to lose any of them. She accepts everything to take care of Tai until her last breath.
I know that only motherhood pushes her there, and I really admire the excellent mother and her noble maternal love for her son.
I learned that there is no greater pain than being abandoned by those they love and with whom they swear to spend the rest of their lives when they are in a terrible state of sickness.
We also met many other pitiful patients who not only gave us the opportunity to listen, console and sympathize with them in emotional tears and joyful smiles, but also offered us valuable lessons with their love and their inner strength.
“The excessive harshness of those who have abandoned their spouse gives me the opportunity to look back to be faithful to Christ’s covenant of love”
In his encyclical Evangelii Gaudium, or The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis said: “Let’s go, let’s go and offer the life of Jesus Christ to everyone.
I walked out and found that I wasn’t giving much, but I received patient dedication. They couldn’t come out with their bodies, but they did with their open hearts, their acceptance and their resilience. Apparently there was nothing they could do, but they gave a lot with their physical and emotional pain.
The visit left me with heady joy, direct experiences and helpful lessons, and I practically touched the suffering parts of Christ through the sick.
Tai’s mother shows her great love in the limited human condition. God’s fatherly love for people is certainly a thousand times greater than people’s motherhood. He still loves us and embraces us in his wings of love. Am I faithful to his love?
The excessive harshness of those who have abandoned their spouse gives me the opportunity to see myself as being faithful to Christ’s covenant of love. Am I giving it up somehow?
I gradually understand more about human destiny and the pain and suffering in life. I thank God abundantly for everything, especially for the love and the gift of life he has given me, and for the protection he offers me every day.
I hope that all Christians will always feel the infinite love of God and give this love in concrete deeds to their fellow man, especially the suffering members of Christ, and become their neighbors like the Good Samaritan in the Gospel. It is an effective way for the joy of the Good News to spread throughout the world.
Little Flower is the pseudonym of a sister in Ho Chi Minh City. This article was summarized and translated by a UCA News reporter from a Vietnamese article published by tgpsaigon.net. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.