Fr. Bernard Arputhasamy, S.J., Regional Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/Asia Pacific, has witnessed the horrors wrought by landmines years after they were placed and then forgotten. Join him in Praying with Refugees who suffer long after soldiers have retreated.
The image of the Handicapped Crucified Christ is born from a people who know too well the ravages of war – war is not over when it is over! Landmines continue to maim and kill for decades after soldiers leave. When JRS accompanied Cambodian refugees at the Thai – Cambodian border, they talked about the“wound of the border,” but it is also of the land, in the countless bodies of people and in their hearts.
Mother earth – the source of life for many – also hid a disabling, death-dealing force of man. One cannot help but notice all of the maimed while traveling in different parts of Cambodia — the image of the Handicapped Crucified Christ is carved into the lives of people.
The people alone know and yet do not know that the Cross of Christ is mysteriously present in their lives. Their smiles and warmth shared with people from far and near sends a profound message: we are wounded but not defeated.
Like the lotus plant that flowers from the muddy pond, a springtime of hope is possible and together we can build and create anew — a resurrection with the Handicapped Risen Lord.
Take a moment to reflect with Sister Anne Sklenars of JRS Cambodia about the Handicapped Christ.
The symbol of Jesus Handicapped, body disabled by continued contradictions of our human condition, emerges from the context of Cambodia. Countless Cambodians live with the results of weapons of war — and from accidents of birth or life.
How does a human heart searching for justice, peace and happiness, converse with Jesus of the Gospel, about such happenings?
When that same human heart meets the heart of the one physically challenged, I meet my own inadequacy. I realize my own incompleteness. When I gaze on the Handicapped Jesus, I think not only of the missing limb, but of the aching heart.
“Wherever suffering is presenting the world, there the Cross of Christ is mysteriously present.” [Karl Rahner]
In this, I know that I am a part of the incompleteness of the Body of Christ. The God of Truth, Tenderness and Trust gifts our disabilities with courage and companionship and calls us all into greater communion with each other. Where communion is no longer a union in love, we continue to crucify and break apart the Body of Christ.
For as long as I do not give love and compassion to another, I am inadequate, I am incomplete. For as long as I do not recognize the face of Jesus in the other, I contribute to the neglect within this Body of Christ.
In living my life in Truth, Tenderness and Trust, I carry within — not only Jesus crucified and maimed, but Jesus Risen. I live with hope, creating the spaces of life where the Reign of God can break through — spaces where The Cross and New Life, can together incarnate the happiness of God which is our strength.
Let the symbol of Jesus Handicapped remind us all of the need to take care of each other on life’s journey — in love.
In relationship and communion, we incarnate Jesus Risen — the Happiness of God, who is our strength.
Sr. Anne Sklenars, RNDM