Honoring Caregiving as a Spiritual Practice
“Those who practice the Spiritual temperament of Caregiving see the practical needs of others and move toward them, shouldering the burdens of others as a form of prayer. Often, we are invited into this work unwillingly and are challenged to allow the Spirit to stretch us into this form of worship. Through aging parents, infants with colic, and beloveds living with a disability, we work through a process from order, through disorder, toward re-order; over and over and over again.
Christ teaches the value of caring for those who were His friends as well as His enemies in the parable of the Good Samaritan, instructing His followers to be people who give practical, hands-on help, even to strangers in need.”
The Good Samaritan (from Luke 10)
33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
How do you “do likewise?” Who do you “have mercy on?” How do you receive self-care so that you may in turn care for others?
Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet (from John 13)
3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.
How do you “wash the feet” of God’s Beloveds? What are the most difficult parts of serving them? What are the most rewarding parts?
Mother Teresa teaches us to look behind the eyes of the poor to see the eyes of God. Her love for the leper was not what drove her; it was her love for the Christ and her commitment to care for those He loves.
“I see God in every human being. When I wash the leper’s wounds, I feel I am nursing the Lord himself.” St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa)
Caring for the Least of These (from Matthew 25)
34 “‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!’”