Advent 2015 – Devotion Three December 1, 2015

World AIDS Day

AIDS. Back in the ’80’s and even into the ’90’s, AIDS was on the forefront of our concern. We were scared of AIDS. And the association of AIDS with homosexuality made it all the more notorious and fearsome. But in this country, through treatment and education and hygienic practices in the medical field, the incidence of AIDS has decreased. We are no longer afraid of this once-dreaded disease. It is not decimating our communities. So, we are not as concerned about AIDS as we once were.

But in Africa, AIDS remains a devastating reality. It is the leading cause of death among African teenagers. The number of teens dying from AIDS related diseases has tripled since the year 2000. These statistics come from UNICEF. [Tampa Bay Times, 11/28/15, 4A]

Does this concern us?  Sometimes it seems like when there is a problem in another country or continent, we’re at the ready with military support – guns, bombs, and drones – in spite of the material and personnel costs involved. Do we just love to use our armed forces?

Addressing AIDS takes education, medication, training, and medical personnel. It takes medical care, equipment, and transportation. Relative to a military response, the cost is minimal. And yet, where is our motivation to respond? Well, what has AIDS in Africa to do with us? It doesn’t affect our daily lives. It doesn’t disrupt our living. We can completely avoid it: Just don’t go to Africa and have sex with someone African and you should be ok.

If AIDS among African teens was affecting our access to oil, now then we might get excited about it. We might even send in the military to help.

To be peacemakers, we really need to notch up our empathy dials. Jesus shows us that peace involves caring about the suffering of others even when it does not affect us directly. Sometime, the pain will be ours, and we will be grateful that someone else cares.

Take a moment to think of a time that you were moved by the suffering of a remote stranger, someone you do not know personally.

Prayer: Our faith teaches us that we are one human family. We pray for all of our brothers and sisters whose lives are affected by AIDS.  May we open our hearts to the pain of others even those we do not know. May we seek to increase our capacity for empathy trusting that it will deepen our humanity in ways that are healing and bring peace to us and to the world. Amen.

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