Day 4 – The silence of the forgotten and the cries of the suffering
‘If one member suffers all suffer together’ (1 Cor 12 : 26)
God heard the cry of the oppressed
O Lord be not silent
1 Cor 12:19-26
Many members yet one body in Christ
Jesus cried aloud: My God why have you forsaken me?
The world in which we live is one in which many people are suffering. Almost everyday we see dramatic pictures in the media and read news about the great catastrophes people have experienced. But the suffering of many people is not acknowledged. They are forgotten. It seems that they suffer silently, but this is a fiction; the silence is more a sign of our ignorance and our egoism.
God hears what we often do not want to hear. He hears the cries of the suffering and he sees their oppression. He does not ignore it (Ex 3). When the people in South Africa read the story of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt they remember their own way out of apartheid. Although the people were systematically silenced, their cries for freedom and justice were loud; the pain was deep, and it took a long time for their longing for liberation to be fulfilled.
Nowadays many people in Africa are victims of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. No war in the world has ever taken more lives than Aids. But the interest – especially in the western world – is not very great. A wall of silence divides the world. Psalm 28 shows us a suffering person, who is crying to God. It is to God that he addresses his misery and his hope. He prays in the trust that God will take notice of him because others do not see his pain.
Together we believe that God shares the trouble and the apprehension of the suffering. Christ crying out on the cross is the clearest sign of this (Mk 15). God is not far away, but in the midst of our suffering.
We are one body in this compassionate Christ. The misery of some members is not their trouble alone but is the responsibility of all. The cries of the infected cannot be ignored or hushed by saying that they are judged by God. If Paul is right when he said: “If one member suffers all suffer together” (1 Cor 12) then we could say that “the whole church has Aids”. We are bound together as one body in Christ. Together, we must take care of the marginalized and ignored.
The great challenge of HIV/AIDS needs a united not a divided or segregated church. It needs a church which cooperates and builds a community of compassion and faith as the one body of Christ, a community where the silence of the forgotten is broken and the cries of the suffering are heard.
Eternal God, you are the hope of those who have been omitted from the agenda of our world. You hear the cries of the wounded hearts and the voices of the despairing souls. Teach us in the power of your Spirit to hear with your ears and reach out through the silence to hear the voices of suffering and longing. As one body in Christ, make us more and more a communion of compassion and a prophetic sign of your incarnate grace and justice. Amen.