Wednesday of Holy Week: Woe To Us That We Cannot Do Better

BY SISTER NORMA PIMENTEL, M.J. | March 27th, 2024
Today’s readings
Versión en español

As I think back to this past summer, the days were extremely hot as most days are in South Texas. I was visiting Pastor Silva at Senda de Vida, a refugee shelter in Reynosa, Mexico. I was helping him with the crowd of people outside the shelter who wanted to go inside. The shelter was already above capacity, with more than 2,000 immigrants inside, and outside were several thousands more asking for help and wanting to get out of the scorching sun.

Both Pastor Silva and I were outside with the desperate crowd. 

A Haitian father at the front screamed at me, “We are suffering in this extreme heat!” I looked him in the eyes and said, “I know – I am out here with you, and I am also hot. I know you are all hurting. This is why I am out here with you, listening to you, concerned for you.” I invited him inside to sit and talk. While we found a brief refuge from the sun, we also found time to refocus the situation and talk about what we could do to help.

Sister Norma listening to migrants outside a refugee shelter. Photo provided by Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley

How many of us consider ourselves good people because we go to church on Sundays, put some money in the basket, possibly help out at a soup kitchen, or do similar good deeds? All of this is good. But could we possibly do more?  Are we overlooking the harsh reality of the many who suffer in our community because of extreme poverty? Are we overlooking the many victims of social injustice who are struggling to survive the day-to-day demands of life – people who find themselves struggling to eat, to bathe, to find a job, to find housing, to enjoy this beautiful life because they are afraid of who might hurt them, or of having the basic needs to be OK?

It is not until we put ourselves in their shoes, right there in the same space where they are, that we will feel the heat, see up close their hurting faces, or simply get close, as Pope Francis reminds us, so that we can better understand the pain they may be experiencing. It is in their presence that we may ask, “Is it I Lord?” who has failed to see you among those who are suffering, and so has betrayed you. 

As you look to refresh yourself in the presence of Jesus during this Holy Week, remember to take time to be present with someone who you may come across who is possibly homeless or an immigrant in the streets of the city. Invite them to sit down and chat.  Embrace their story. It is a beautiful way to refresh your faith in Jesus.

6 replies
  1. Cathe
    Cathe says:

    Thank you for the reminder to be vulnerable to the basic needs of others. To embrace and support the suffering among us. To move beyond ourself to HEAR and SEE our brother our sister. To take time to listen to another’s story.

    MARY GEISLER says:

    Sister Norma always has the right sentiment to say. I admire her and all the work she does on the border.

  3. Ave Clark,O.P.
    Ave Clark,O.P. says:

    God bless Sister Norma for reminding us that love always opens up
    the heart so that we can see Christ in the tears and bruises of someone else’s journey. May we dare to be a Christ-Companion . Amen. Sister Ave Clark,O.P. of Heart to Heart Ministry

  4. Tanya Hielke
    Tanya Hielke says:

    thank you for this reminder. I ask myself often, “am I doing enough?” Then I ask my Lord, wait and pay attention to who is placed in my path. I do volunteer ministry for those going through divorce. I listen to their stories, hold them in their grief, and validate that they are loved and are lovable! I know Jesus would do the same.

    T.H. Wisconsin

  5. Deb
    Deb says:

    My heart anguishes for those seeking a safe haven in this world. Each encounter working alongside Sister Norma Seni Pimentel at the Humanitarian Respite Center in #McAllenTX brought me closer to embracing the heart of Christ Jesus. #LivetheGospel #Matthew25 #HardenNotYourHeart


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