“At a time when everything seems to disintegrate and lose consistency, it is good for us to appeal to the “solidity” born of the consciousness that we are responsible for the fragility of others as we strive to build a common future. Solidarity finds concrete expression in service, which can take a variety of forms in an effort to care for others. And service in great part means caring for vulnerability, for the vulnerable members of our families, our society, our people.” (Fratelli Tutti #115)
Upon first reading this excerpt from Pope Francis, one might be tempted to say: “My own life is fragile enough; am I really expected to be responsible for the fragility of others, too?” This could be understandable, considering all of the troubles, large and small, that life throws at us every day. Yet, upon further consideration, it may be that in taking up responsibility for others, especially in their fragility, we actually become stronger, better able to cope, and we double the good that is done, as such gestures provide grace both to the giver and the receiver. This is service. This is the Gospel incarnated.
The quote speaks of “caring for vulnerability.” Stop for a moment and think about what that means. Many of us respond when social, geopolitical or natural calamity occurs. We are moved by images we see in the media, or by the suffering we see firsthand. And this is as it should be. Yet, if we adopt an attitude that truly “cares for the vulnerable” it requires us to respond even before calamity occurs. Vulnerability means that one is near danger, in one form or another. Vulnerability means that a person has a good chance of being hurt, or worse. Many of us do not see vulnerability, only tragedy once it occurs. Many of us don’t see the images of vulnerability, even right before our eyes.
During this season of Lent, would it not be a good practice, each day, to identify the vulnerable around us, and in some way, even a small way, do something in “solidarity” with that person, letting them know they are not alone and they can count on you?