I've been thinking about a woman I met and financially supported here in the Philippines. Her name was Christine and she had a chronic health condition that required her to receive dialysis treatments twice a week. She had already been sick for a long time when I met her, and her condition frequently vacillated from better to worse because she could not afford to maintain a regular schedule of dialysis.
I was told that the full treatment necessary for Christine to maintain her maximum level of health would cost many hundreds of dollars per month. At first, I remember balking at the figure; would it really make sense to donate all that money just to keep one woman alive, when the same money could instead be used to provide for dozens of others in need? I knew theoretically, according to my Catholic Faith and pro-life upbringing, that this very sick woman's life was just as precious to God as the life of anyone else, but it was hard for me to accept that fact when faced with this very real situation. God is so merciful - Jesus softened my heart and also provided more than enough funding from my benefactors to make Christine's monthly treatments possible.
Christine passed away this month. Our missionary community mourned her passing, as many other missionaries had also gotten to know her and given her medical support over the years. She was a holy woman who knew well how to suffer for the glory of God.
As I lie here in bed, I have to ask myself, what is one person's life worth? What am I worth as a missionary if I cannot even get up to answer the door when a neighbor comes asking for help?
I have no theologically lofty answer to this question, except that answer which I have repeated innumerable times to my high school students. We are, each of us, made in the image and likeness of God. All of our worth is found in our identity as sons and daughters of God -- there is NOTHING we must do or accomplish in order to earn it.
Yes, in a business venture, supporting one person rather than one dozen might be considered illogical. But Christ Jesus is not a businessman. He is a passionate Lover Whose heart bleeds for His people. And that is why He asked me to support Christine, so that I might learn from her what each of us is worth in the eyes of our Maker.