Embrace the Suffering in Mercy

In May, Brother Diogo Escudero spoke with a group of breast cancer survivors, the Georgetown Breast Cancer Advocates, to share his views on faith and science. He told of his personal journey with God, including a call to the priesthood in his teens that he ignored, years of study, partying, and meaningless relationships while in graduate school, and an eventual calling to grow closer to God, which led him to join the Franciscans. He described it as a profound conversion experience that took place over a few months, a fire lit by a spark from a small book about living a simple faith by St. Therese Lisieux, “The Little Flower.”

Escudero recalls a question from one of the participants about how to respond to weary cancer patients who want nothing to do with medicine, saying God will heal.

“When patients go to the doctor and keep hearing bad news, it’s normal for people to behave that way,” says Escudero. “Death is such an unknown in our lives. It’s something we can’t escape. But for people in those situations with fear, medicine is there, and cancer is not the death sentence that it used to be.” He advised the advocates to embrace these patients with mercy, accepting the gift of God’s grace to be in a situation where they can touch people’s lives when they are most vulnerable, when disease like cancer causes such deep fear. He suggested they gently explain that God needs everyone to take care of themselves using all means available—including medicine. 

And when in doubt, he says, turn to Scripture.

“God can certainly work miracles, and on occasions He does. But often He desires us to experience His healing and love through one another. The Old Testament—The Book of Sirach, Chapter 38 —says that God has given doctors wisdom, so use doctors when needed. God has given them the gift of knowledge and most importantly the compassion to see and treat a suffering person. The Gospels talk about our duty to care for every little person who is suffering. When you are taking care of that person, you are taking care of the suffering Christ.”