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Accompanying the Dear Neighbor

 Sister Zaida Pérez Peralta

Palm Sunday graphic with a cloth hanging over a cross and a palm branch

In this Lent, I am sensitive to Jesus’ invitation to follow Him. As a part of this invitation, I am called to be more aware of “my desert”, the reality of life in my neighborhood, my town, my nation. Many of us turn our eyes to Jesus who encourages us with His Word of Life. He invites me to let myself be touched by the joys and sufferings of my neighborhood. There is pain, and I mourn with them; there is joy, and I rejoice with them.

Today, I hear Jesus telling us: “You ask for signs in order to believe.” I also hear Him telling us: “Blessed are those who, without seeing, believe.” He speaks to me of faith, of believing in Him without proof. In my life, in the lives of so many people I have accompanied, we speak of the signs of God’s action in our lives. It is here that we increase our faith and trust in Jesus, in God, the Trinity who accompanies us.

An unfortunate event occurred with a neighbor who runs a common pot in our neighborhood. As a result of a fire, an insecticide pipe exploded causing burns on her arm, back and face. Her shocked companions were quick to help her. Our neighbor, Mrs. Delia, is a person of great human quality— active, sensitive to the needs of others—she knows how to love. This depth of love in her life is based on her faith in God, which has helped her overcome the pain and tragedy of her ordeal. She is making progress in her recovery. Mrs. Delia is a great testimony for her entire community.

May this time of greater closeness to our neighbors bring us closer to the experience of Jesus who loves, heals, understands, forgives and saves.

Undoubtedly, God is present in the love of her family, neighbors, companions of the common pot who help her with food, the Sisters who support the pot and the parish priest who visits her to give her the support she needs. We continue to accompany her, helping and supporting her with affection, friendship and small material aid. Love for God is cemented in love for our neighbor in need, like the help given to Mrs. Delia at the moment of the tragedy and afterwards during her recovery. This is the fast that God wants us to live; the love between us in works of gratuitous love.

In the life of the poor and simple, love in gestures of solidarity and mutual support are the strength of God’s love that encourages us to live with gratitude for basic goods such as food, medicine, clothes and friendship in joyful time or sad. Affection and empathy are the balm that heals wounds. Goodness lived with faith in God who is Father, Friend and Companion makes people warm, simple, accessible, good and human. May this time of greater closeness to our neighbors bring us closer to the experience of Jesus who loves, heals, understands, forgives and saves.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, who strengthens us in faith and love for our neighbor in need!

Category: Reflections

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The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are a congregation of Catholic sisters. We, and those who share our charism and mission, are motivated in all things by our profound love of God and our dear neighbors. We seek to build communities and bridge divides between people. Since our first sisters gathered in 1650, our members have been called to “do all things of which women are capable.” The first sisters of our congregation arrived in St. Louis, Missouri in 1836, and we now have additional locations in St. Paul, Albany, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Japan and Peru. Today, we commit to respond boldly to injustice and dare to be prophetic.


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