Who are "the afflicted?" If we are to comfort them, we need to be able to identify them. Today we might consider them to be the people of Nepal suffering after the earthquake or the residents of Baltimore who have experienced death, protests and curfews. But, unless we personally know someone involved in those events, we have no opportunity to offer comfort.
We might, on the other hand, know someone who has lost a job, had a fire in their home, or been unjustly accused. Sometimes those who are afflicted hide their problem. They don't want anyone to know that they've lost a job, or their spouse has left them, or the insurance has run out for their sick child. So, often, the person whom we have the opportunity to comfort is someone really close to us, a family member or life-long friend.
Comfort can be a listening ear, doing the laundry for someone spending their days at the hospital, or taking in people who have lost their home. Years ago when my mother was in her final illness, a neighbor, who knew about insurance, offered to keep track of the doctor and hospital bills. It was a tremendous load off of my mind as my days revolved around my mother's medications, oxygen supplies and doctor appointments. Another friend offered me a room to sleep in when my sister would take care of Mom for a night. These acts of kindness were a big comfort to me.
For Reflection: If we listen to people and look around, we may see opportunities to comfort a friend who is afflicted. "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (James 2:14-17)
Let us pray. Father, for the times when I have turned a blind eye, forgive me.
For the times when I have seen the need, but refused to get involved, forgive me.
For the times when I have hardened my heart to another's affliction, forgive me.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.