June 5, 2021

It’s not easy to ask for help. Many of us come from a culture where individualism and self-sufficiency are highly praised. Asking for help might be considered a sign of weakness, failure, or inferiority. We somehow expect ourselves to navigate every situation with aptitude and solve every problem on our own. It’s telling that when we identify an area in our lives where we need some help, we name the books we consult “self-help.” It appears that even when we are consulting someone’s advice for the challenges we encounter, we still have to maintain the façade that we are self-sufficient.

Of course, this is not Catholic, nor is it eucharistic. The eucharistic perspective, articulated so well by Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 12, is that we are all “many parts” that makeup “one body.” God’s vision for humanity is not one of autonomous self-sufficiency but of mutual belonging and the sharing of gifts for the benefit of all. Everyone needs help sometimes, and everyone can be of help sometimes.

However, this is a very counter-cultural message, and many people suffer for their perceived need to be “self-sufficient.” It’s sad to see people enter a nursing home with great mental anguish because they feel they are no longer “self-sufficient.” It’s also sad to see someone exhaust themselves fulfilling perceived roles to be “self-sufficient.” From the moment we come into this world, we are not “self-sufficient.” The help a small child needs can bring out the best in their parents. And the limitation of a parent can stir compassion and creativity in a child.

The readings today frequently speak about “giving alms.” We could define this broadly as “giving help,” helping the poor, or helping someone in need. But let’s remember, we need help as much, if not more than we give help. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. After all, even Jesus was not, nor chose to be, “self-sufficient.”

Let Us Pray:

Merciful God, who sends your Spirit to draw us into community, help us be of help, and accept to be helped readily. We ask you to hear our prayers, Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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About John Christman, SSS

John Christman, SSS is a member of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament and the former editor of Emmanuel. He is an artist, musician and frequently writes on the topic of theology and the arts.