Every time I hear or read about the “burden” that the ill, frail, and disabled place upon society, I want to scream. The reference is usually made in terms of the financial cost, but it can also be couched as a “problem” for families with loved ones who require their attention, or the elderly who need more support to live their lives with dignity.
Without the ill, weak, or physically or emotionally handicapped people in our world, how would anyone learn what it means to love? And, if there were no means by which people would learn to love, wouldn’t the world quickly dissolve into a place without love? Without goodness? Without compassion?
Now, I don’t mean “love” as the giddy, heart-pounding kind of affection celebrated on February 14. No, I mean more the “agape” kind of love, the care expressed and lived out for others as explained and demonstrated by Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is that kind of love that allows strangers to care tirelessly for others, to bathe them and treat them, to help them die with respect and dignity. It is that kind of love that inspires medical professionals to devote years and years of their lives, learning how to better care for their patients and rendering that care.
People who are infirm, especially those who cannot speak or act for themselves, teach us how to rise above our own egos and desires and reach for a greater goal: Living, however stutteringly, as Christ wishes us to live. By respecting their lives and by recognizing that it is God who gives breath and life in the first place, we become honorable, something more than merely human. We become better people, through and through. And that cannot be quantified by any study, economic or otherwise.
For we who have serious health conditions, it’s important to recognize how much we can teach others. And it’s important to encourage those still able-bodied to understand beyond the “inconvenience” posed by our limitations and see that there is a greater calling, open to all.
The call to care and, one day, be cared for, in turn.
Blessings for the day,