A Reflection from Good Friday’s Way of the Cross by Laura Garrett

VERONICA WIPES THE FACE OF JESUS: Let us respond to suffering with kindness, by Laura Garrett

Veronica made no plans to comfort Jesus. She didn’t do fundraising projects, or sit through committee meetings to prepare for the big event. No: instead, Veronica’s simple act of kindness was a spontaneous moment of empathetic action. Veronica saw another person in pain and she could not stand idly by; she had to act immediately to help a fellow human being.

Let us all have the courage to respond to the pain of others with Veronica’s spirit of spontaneity. When you see a woman walking down the street, struggling to carry her groceries back home, don’t just drive on by. Offer to give her a ride. After a windstorm, don’t just clear your own yard of debris—clear the yard of your elderly neighbor as well, without waiting to be asked. When you turn on the news and you see the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice crying in pain, don’t wait for the “opportune” moment to march with them for justice and peace. Their suffering is happening now—we also must act with mercy and kindness right now.

The prophet Jeremiah, in chapter 8 verses 21 and 22, said, “For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt, I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?”. Veronica teaches us that when we see others suffering, it must be our natural and immediate impulse to offer them kindness. In that way we can be the “balm of Gilead” to restore health, peace and happiness for others.