By Nancy R. Catan, BCBP Manila
I am enjoying a quiet time under our mango tree early morning of the last day of 2014 before the onset of the noise and revelry of New Year’s Eve. For Christmas our son Moses gifted me with his latest book of inspirational reflections, “Impact Your World: How to be salt and light as a Catholic in today’s generation”.
In one of the chapters Moses discusses what caring means and how caring relates to our Pope’s focus on mercy and compassion, on what he calls a “revolution of tenderness”. In light of the coming apostolic visit of Pope Francis and his repeated message of mercy and compassion, I would like to share a bit from Moses’ book as he discusses Fr. Thomas Dubay’s list of the characteristics of genuine caring for these qualities can help us better understand Pope Francis’ call for a “revolution of tenderness”.
Caring requires relationships: with others, with God, with family, with community. “Caring is jumping into the other’s world, and seeking the other’s welfare.” It is not truly caring if you are unaware of the situation of the other, if you do not understand, or even try to understand, what the other person is experiencing.
Caring implies presence. Caring means the joining of inner affection and outer expression.” With modern technology, i.e. mobile phones, ipads, internet, it becomes easier to reach out to others and share in their joys, their sorrows, their difficulties. We can express our affection, let them know we empathize with their situation, and be one with them wherever they are. But caring does not simply mean texting a message, caring needs to be shown in doing something tangible towards the well-being of the other.
Caring is treating the other as a person, as a human. Not as just a textmate, a FB friend, a kasambahay, an unknown neighbor, or a worker, but as a person beloved by God, as someone special, appreciated and valued.
Caring yields a communal atmosphere of warmth. Life is to be lived in relationship with others; we depend on others for so many, many things in our life. We need to realize that no matter where we are or what we do, we are part of a community. The need for one another requires and thrives in an atmosphere of warmth, encouragement, tenderness, mercy, compassion, and understanding.
Other characteristics of genuine caring include courtesy, cheerful gentleness, comforting compassion, a presence of solidarity, pakikiisa and spiritual togetherness.
In brief, we are asked to cultivate “a revolution of tenderness, of mercy and compassion” in everything we do, in all our relationships.
This is the best gift we can give Pope Francis. This is the best gift we can give our loved ones, our friends and neighbors, our BCBP community, all the children of God, not only now as we begin the New Year but throughout the year and into the coming years, too.
May you be blessed and enjoy the fruits of caring in 2015 and beyond!