A Reflection by Sr. Anita O’Leary ssjg: Diocesan Coordinator

The gospel for the 3rd Sunday of Advent is from
Matthew 11:2-11. In this Gospel, John the Baptist is in prison; He sends some
of his followers to Jesus to ask the question, if he, Jesus was the one to come
or had they to wait longer?

Jesus’ answer was a surprise, as he asked them to look
around and to see what was happening.  Sick
people are returning to health, people who have lost hope are returning to
hope, people who had lost courage, who had lost a sense of themselves are
returning to life.This is the sign of God’s presence.

During 2009 and 2010, as a result to Kurisanani’s response
to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we have seen people return to health, those who have
had no hope and have lost courage are returning to life.

I know this for I have seen, through my visits around the
Diocese to the parishes, to the Anti-Retroviral clinics, to the shelters and to
the care centres for orphans and vulnerable children.  We have facilitated times for caregivers, to
reflect on their experiences, and all have recalled the hopes and dreams of
those with whom they have contact.

Throughout the Diocese, homes have been visited; the pain
and suffering of those visited have been given comfort and hope by committed
caregivers.This care is the compassionate care of Jesus for those suffering
with HIV and Aids.

There have been challenging times in the ministry of HIV and
Aids.We are aware of the global economy and the events taking place in the
countries who have been the main funders of many of our programmes.We know of
the reality of these cut backs, as in 2009 the third phase of funding from CRS
reflected a change in budget, and now at the end of 2010, this funding covers
only the Parish structure, i.e. the parish HIV and AIDS team.

This reality of funding coming to an end for some aspects
of the response, I am sure has caused many to fear, perhaps to ask questions
like,“Quo Vadis, where are you going?”

However, as followers of Jesus, the Gospel tells us many
times,‘not to be afraid’.The Gospel story, of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar,
calls out to Jesus for help. Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for
you”.“To see again” was the reply.This response, implies that the blind beggar
has seen before, his blindness came, when he perhaps took a different turn in his
life. He, in calling out to Jesus, knew that Jesus would show him the way again
to live his life.

Pope Benedict XVI at the closing Mass for the African
Synod of Bishops (2009), spoke on the gospel story of Bartimaeus; He said:

“Bartimaeus who, after he is healed, follows Jesus along
the road, is the image of humanity that, enlightened by faith, sets out on the
journey to the promised land. Bartimaeus, in turn, becomes a witness of the
light, recounting and showing in the first person that he has been healed,
renewed, reborn”.

As we enter into a new year, we know that care of those
infected and affected by HIV and Aids continues.We know that there are going to
be changes. However, let us not lose faith in the God who calls each one of us.
Let us call out like Bartimaeus “let us see again” to God who cares for the
poor and marginalized”. Help us to learn how to discern and recognize our
desire and will and to have the wisdom and courage to act accordingly.

“Choose Life”

Sr.Anita O’Leary ssjg

Diocesan Coordinator