A Commitment to Love – Your Catholic Weekly Reflection from CMMB
“I will follow you wherever you go.” —Luke 9:57
In today’s Gospel, Jesus talks about what it means to be his follower. To follow Jesus requires a wholehearted commitment to put God first, above all else. God loves us unconditionally, despite our faults and transgressions. All He asks is that we love Him and our fellows in return. We can show this love in big and small ways by bringing God into our lives in everything we do.
For nearly two decades, Kathleen Hartmann has spent six months a year bringing hope and dignity to the people of Swaziland. Joined by her husband, Dr. Al, and a dedicated team from the Good Shepherd Mission Hospital, Kathleen administers home-based care to the sick and the elderly, restoring dignity to those living at the periphery of care and in the depths of extreme poverty.
On their visits they see as many patients as they can in a 60-mile radius, administering medications and treating the symptoms of the sick and dying. The combination of poverty, poor food supply, and a high prevalence of disease leaves the residents in this area incredibly vulnerable.
The Hartmanns began to see what they called “horrific cancers”—like cervical and uterine—developing in women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. Observing the cycle of deadly illnesses and poor recovery in patients, Kathleen, Al and the team started a formal palliative care program in 2012.
People living with a serious illness endure a high level of pain, especially towards the end of their lives. Palliative care can ease the suffering and manage symptoms, but for the Hartmanns, it’s more than that. It’s about comforting support, and perhaps most importantly–compassionate, spiritual care. Spiritual care is a major part of the attention they give the sick and dying. They find it impossible to do one well without the other.
“We go in there, these people are suffering, they’re hungry, they’ve got terrible wounds, they’re in pain… We’ll say, ‘Would you like us to pray with you before we leave?’ One hundred percent of the time, they want it. They sing, they start a beautiful hymn … and it’s usually thanking God.”
The Hartmanns also provide whatever they can to make life easier for these families, with whom they’ve grown very close. Sometimes it’s a mattress so they don’t have to sleep on the floor, or a 20-liter container of water so they don’t have to walk long distances to fetch it. “We get to witness relief and a smile,” says Kathleen.
God does not expect grand gestures—we can honor Him by being there when someone is hungry, lonely, or sick. Love and dignity can make all the difference. When there is no medicine or care that can help, it is love and support that can guide us through. Please join us in praying for those suffering today.
In grace and peace,
CMMB/Healthier Lives Worldwide
*Today’s reflection was inspired by Loyola Press.