Malta Independent

With you through your suffering, and over it

- Anthony Gatt

“Aggression, greed, waste, theft, egoism, exploitati­on and abuse of power all lead to much human pain and suffering

Anthony Gatt is the Director of Caritas Malta

Why human misery and suffering? Why pain? Why crime and addiction? Why greed? Why poverty? When God created human beings, he created them in his image and thus, necessaril­y created them free. Freedom is the basic ingredient for one to be able to love or choose to love. God did not create a race of robots programmed to love and care for each other. Since we have the freedom to choose to love, we also have the freedom to choose to hate and destroy. Love gives life. Hate brings destructio­n.

Humans essentiall­y remain free to influence others for good or bad. This is no more apparent in parenting. A parent who is absent, cold or abusive can have a long-lasting negative impact on the child. Very often in my work as a psychologi­st, I

have witnessed children who behave like bullies and hurt other children, witness violence, or else stories of children living in an environmen­t with no limit setting. Aggression, greed, waste, theft, egoism, exploitati­on and abuse of power all lead to much human pain and suffering.

Caritas is witness to this pain and suffering on a daily basis; the pain of a child whose parents are separating, the despair of dependency on a substance, the escape from emotional pain through drugs, the terror of an elderly person who was robbed, or the grief of an elderly mother who is never visited by her son, the anxiety of ending up homeless or not managing the bills, the loss of child to suicide. The list is endless.

As he witnessed this suffering, Jesus bore the cross so that in their suffering no human person feels alone. Christ experience­d excruciati­ng physical and emotional pain.

During this time we have numerous memories of Christ’s physical pain: the emotional pain of feeling abandoned to cope alone with an unbearable cross, discourage­ment and loneliness, hunger and thirst, and even despair. No wonder he was called Emmanuel (God is with us). Christ looks at each person in the suffering human eyes and can say, “I am with you in your cavalry”.

For believers, this is a huge sustenance and solace. Even if everyone around leaves, he remains. For believers, through his example, Christ invites us to respond to those who are suffering from empathy, and with sharing in the carrying of that pain, to accompany the person in their suffering to get through it an over it.

This is what Caritas is called for: love in action.

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