• Sarah Raad


Updated: Dec 29, 2020

When we learn to truly love our neighbour as ourselves, wonderful wonderful miracles can happen.

The Good Samaritan (Jordaens Podhorce)

Today, I have prayed for a little baby named Charbel, while praying for my dear friend Nancy, my little niece and all of you who pray with me.

Today Charbel’s parents met with his doctors to understand the results of the various tests he has undergone over the last few days. Charbel was very unstable today and his mother was afraid.

It was a difficult day for him – just as it was a difficult day for those who love him. Perhaps this child, so close to all the angels and the saints – surrounded by them in fact, infused with an ecstasy of Grace through his total innocence and purity at this time – can feel our anguish.

Charbel, being perfectly one now with the Communion of Saints and so connected to God through the perfect Grace that has infused his soul, can feel us all collectively clutching onto him with the loving torment in our souls as we hold him here for his mother and his father and family.

I have never met baby Charbel. I have only seen photographs of Charbel – and none of those recent. I have never met his parents, and my only contact is his grandmother, who I have had one 10-minute conversation with and exchanged a few text messages.

Charbel is a stranger to me, and yet I love him as my neighbour.

Only a few weeks ago, in a blinding flash, my prayers for my baby niece sent me the Grace to teach me Christ’s first commandment – to love the Lord my God with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole mind and with all my strength.

Now, in a blinding flash, my prayers for the beautiful baby Charbel (and Nancy and all of you) sent me the Grace to teach me Christ’s second commandment – to love my neighbour as myself in loving one another as God has loved us.

Charbel is a stranger to me, and yet I love him as my neighbour.

As my neighbour, Charbel’s pain, and that of his family, is MY pain. I embrace his suffering and their sacrifice – not sadistically or in physical form – but with love for my neighbour, inspired by God the Holy Spirit, who is the Love between the Father and the Son.

I like to think humbly, that I embrace their suffering, as Christ embraced ours, through His Cross. To give them strength. To comfort them. So that they are not alone.

Charbel is now another of my spiritual children.

I, who have never been an openly generous and loving person, seem to have adopted several spiritual children in the past few months!

What has changed?

The answer is simple. Nothing. Nothing at all has changed because God does not change.

I AM. That is God. I AM. Not I was, or I will be, or I want to be, but I AM. Forever unchanging.

This gratitude. This refusal to criticise the wonders of God – despite their terrible crushing weight. This Grace. This is new to me – but it is not mine. All this gratitude that I now have the Grace to feel, comes from God.

These special few who drew me here, who led me along this path. These suffering souls. These are the treasures of God’s own house. They are his blessed ones. What could I ever do to thank them for their lives lived well?

I know nothing of their physical pain or their anguish. How could I? Sorrows are hidden in the depths of our souls and revealed to God Himself and perhaps only in eternity to the rest of us. But in my soul, I will gladly share their sorrows to show some gratitude for the love they bore to God in carrying their Cross with such Grace and Dignity. In my work I teach, yet these blessed few – these tiny ones – they are my teachers now.

The Grace that was freely given to me in a blinding flash of light I will gladly give away. For is not God’s Grace as infinite as He is in His mercy and love?

Today, in this twilight time, in this window that this blessed baby and his family are living in – this Purgatory between life and death – when nothing is certain and there are simply no answers. Now, when the tests say one thing and baby Charbel does another and the doctors cannot explain the difference. Now, when his mother may feel that the world has chewed up her precious precious child up and spat him away as though his life is of little worth... Now I tell you. Now.

This child is the treasure of God’s own house!

God is not mocked. He makes no mistakes.

Charbel has been formed in the perfect ferocity of God’s own love.

He comes from love.

He brings us love.

He is loved.

And through Grace, Charbel is love itself.

And for love of him – this stranger, my neighbour, this treasured one – with hope, we pray.

There is such Grace in this for us, because with Charbel everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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