By Nwachukwu Joshua
Survey shows that the growth of the culture of death in this century is unprecedented in the history of mankind. More and more people have the power to decide arbitrarily and diabolically who should live or die, who has dignity and who has none. In this century, the unborn, the physically challenged, the elderly and the sickly are endangered more than they have ever been since the beginning of the world. Yet human life remains a gift from God which does not cease to be precious even when it is physical weak and limited.
When the suffering of another is brought up, many scoff and sneer: they prefer not to hear of it, they do not want to be reminded of pain. They lack empathy with the suffering. But blessed John Paul II disagrees with this awful attitude to suffering, in his words, “Suffering does not appear as a purely negative reality, but is a visitation from God, granted in order, to give birth to works of love toward neighbour, in order to transform the whole of human civilisation into a civilisation of love. The world of human suffering opens up the way to the world of human love.”
These words of Blessed Pope John Paul II seem to be comforting to Pericas’s household. Being Christians, not only did they understand the Pope’s word, they are struggling to live it. Their 11 year old daughter, Christina is suffering from an uncommon degenerative disease with a very long scientific name (Creutzfeldt-Jakob spongiform encephalopathy) which still baffles doctor. It makes her unable to talk or move her body.
Rather than kill her, as the today’s dictators of the culture of death would dictate, her parents, true to their Christian faith, see her as a gift from God, through which they can grow in love for one another and for their neighbour.
According to doctors, Cristina’s health is going to continue degenerating until she dies. But her parents are determined to carry the inconveniences and burdens squarely on their shoulders and they have done so for 2 years now. Their faithfulness to their child is heroic, a consolation for the world’s suffering and forsaken, and a living proof of the dignity of every human life. They are teaching the world what love of neighbour truly is. Their actions tell us that true love of neighbour demands serving others and showing compassion to the sick regardless of personal cost, a demand more generally affirmed in words than in deeds by many. As we watch this video of this young girl and her courageous family, let us pray for them and try to turn our civilization from a culture of hatred and selfishness to a culture of love.