Helping Others without Helping Ourselves

The modern American world can make it difficult to appreciate the lives of the ancient saints. As an example, modern medicine has extended life far beyond what could be expected for so many. What would have meant sure death for a newborn child, is time in the NICU of even the smallest hospitals in America, for the child to go home with parents to live a normal life. What would have been miracles for the ancient saints, are everyday medical procedures today, and that skews how we think.

Of course, people still die in America despite advanced technologies, and in developing and impoverished countries, newborns with medical complications rarely make it home. If we allow it, this harsh reality can be an inspiration to a deeper faith, and saints like those celebrated today, can inspire us to devote time to helping others in their time of need.

Today the Church commemorates a pair of unmercenary saints, Cyrus and John. You can read a brief story about them, and those martyred with them, here. Since we are paid for everything we do today, we can’t imagine devoting our entire life to healing ministries without receiving one cent in payment. Saints Cyrus and John, while simultaneously fleeing persecution, devoted their time to helping those in need. I suspect most of us would focus on protecting ourselves with the pretense that we would not be able to help ‘anyone’ if we were dead. In the end, we help ‘nobody’ but ourselves.

As I wrote, modern medical technology and the modern world have changed the way we think. There are free clinics, food pantries, shelters, and clothing closets for those in need, but can it ever be enough? For the most part, people who are sick are not just lying in the streets waiting for someone to help them bandage their wounds, although just last week I was blessed to learn of a woman who stopped what she was doing for a man in a wheelchair. He was cold, bleeding, and hungry. She helped to get him cleaned up, fed him, and brought him some dry warm clothes. In the middle of town in the 21st Century, a man just sat waiting for someone to help. Thank God, someone noticed him and helped.

Today our society is in the middle of an identity crisis, egged on by politicians fighting for our votes, but politicians can’t save us. Just because our technology and advanced society has eliminated much of the ancient struggles, doesn’t mean those struggles weren’t replaced other struggles. Sure, almost every baby survives childbirth in the modern world, but how many children suffer hunger and neglect? Sure, free clinics bandage wounds, but how many men walk the streets in their addiction to drugs and alcohol?

Will we ever be free from suffering? As Christians, we know that answer is a resounding, ‘no,’ not because God wants us to suffer, but because the world is wounded. That is why the Church continues to inspire us with stories of unmercenary saints, hoping to inspire us to help someone in need. It is one reason we have decided to dedicate more time to blogging about the Saints, not as history but as inspiration. Saints Cyrus and John were fleeing from persecution, but still found time to help. We who are not persecuted spend our time keeping to ourselves.

It’s time for us to be a little more like them. The world needs us to go beyond ourselves, not for our benefit. Being an unmercenary isn’t just about money. It’s about helping others without helping ourselves.


Leave a Comment

Recent Comments