Relationships, You & Your Family

Blissful indifference

Blissful indifference

Recently, many were unsettled, if not shocked, by news reports of a family’s cruelty to their domestic helper, who was abused and tortured to the point of death. Then there was the case of a son who abused his elderly mother for years. Fortunately, she survived, but her physical and psychological wounds will probably be severe and long lasting.

How did no one know or act? The old lady had sought treatment for her injuries and the medical staff surely saw that her injuries and wounds did not match the description of how they were sustained. Yet, no one could or would do more to help.

In Matthew 25:31­–40, we are told that when Christ comes again, all of us will stand before His throne to receive our reward or punishment. We will be judged by how we lived our lives on earth, especially with regard to how we responded to the needy, less privileged, disadvantaged and even to prisoners.

A constant refrain in the account were the words, “When did we see you… (hungry, naked, lonely)?” Besides those condemned by their selfishness, even the charitable ones asked this question. Jesus’ response was that God, even if not seen, is present in each needy individual. Our Lord, the King of kings, the Creator and Master of the universe, identifies with the least of these individuals. He is willing to be like them.

I find it refreshing that those who demonstrated compassion did so not because they knew or hoped that their kind deeds would be noticed or rewarded. They saw the needy for who they were, the hungry as those who needed food and the homeless as people without shelter.

Mother Teresa, when asked why she helped those rejected by society, said: “I see Jesus in every human being.” If only we shared her perspective.

But we do not, do we? We turn our gaze away from people who are obviously sad and downtrodden. We deafen our ears to the cries and screams of those who are being hurt and abused. We tell ourselves to mind our own business.

But what is our “business” if not to love the world? Are we not to be the hands and feet of our loving Father and be the expression of His love to a world broken by division and strife?

Or, are we like the people who justified themselves with “When did we see you?” Living in this age of social media and information overload, saying we are unaware of the needs around us is to pretend not to know and be indifferent. Have we become, in the words of a song by Pink Floyd (1979), “comfortably numb”?

On the Day of Reckoning, on which side will we be found? Will we be numbered among the righteous or will we be in the group offering the weak excuse, “When did we see you…?”

Benny Bong has been a family and marital therapist for more than 30 years, and is a certified work-life consultant. He was the first recipient of the AWARE Hero Award, received in 2011, and is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.