Lent reminds us of the 40 days Jesus passed in the desert, suffering great deprivations, which the devil attempts to use to separate Jesus from God. Likewise, Lent is a time for us to contemplate what separates us from God. In Christianity, we use the word “sin” to describe what separates us from God. However, as with many words, the word sin has been used and abused that we seem to lose track of what the original meaning of the word is:
It means to miss the mark. I like this explanation, because we miss the mark when we do not our best, when we do not live up to our potential and sway away from doing the right thing because of temptations, laziness or especially because we have allowed ourselves to grow distant to God.
When we do not our best in whatever we do, bad things happen, especially to the innocent and children. Jesus was crucified in spite of being innocent and even Pontius Pilate pronouncing His innocence. The children and families NPH serves are “crucified” because we, as human beings and the societies we create, do not live up to the best we could be and create. We know the results of that: poverty, violence, war, lives lived in indignant conditions, people suffering and dying from simple diseases that could be cured easily, hurtful behavior that will create deep emotional wounds that can last a lifetime.
Throughout my life I have seen the visible and invisible wounds of this kind of crucifixion, scars on the bodies of the children, children struggling to learn because malnutrition prevented their brains from full development, a teenager falling into drug or alcohol addiction to numb emotional pain.
The good news is that the story does not end with the crucifixion but with the resurrection. That is our call at NPH, to enable children and families to become what God intended them to be, women and men with fully developed capacities used to create better families, communities and societies.
While I have seen so many examples of this kind of resurrection, there is one little boy that I often come back to in my memory. I once heard a saying that the only sound worse than a baby crying is a baby not crying at all. That was Carlos*. From wherever he came, not even a year old, he had learned, that no matter how much he cried nothing would happen. Yet, the wounds on his body, especially the diaper rash he had, which was the worst I have ever seen, should have made him scream at the top of his lungs. In the first months of his stay with us, he was in and out of the hospital. The wonderful childcare staff that accompanied him day and night in the hospital, reported that it was difficult for them to even go to the bathroom as Carlos exhibited great distress every time they had to go somewhere. Yet, within time, he learned that we would not abandon him. In the company of his NPH Family, with his new brothers and sisters, he lived his own resurrection growing into a young boy that loves and is loved. Carlos is now 10 years old, healthy, thriving, smiling, playing, and filled with a wisdom way beyond his age.
I wish you a blessed Easter Season and may we all through celebrating the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ grow closer to God.