Soup for the soul

Bethany Ministry Reaches Out In Caring

The icon of Jesus with Lazarus, Mary and Martha of Bethany depicts Christian friendship at its best. Devoted friends extend hospitality and kindness to Jesus and He enjoys their company. This is a beautiful example to follow. At times in life we may be like Lazarus, with an illness or going through a difficult time. Trusting in Jesus to heal and restore let us be there for one another like Mary, who listens with attentiveness, and Martha, who helps in practical ways.

Friendship and caring are powerful forces that bring joy, comfort and even healing. It’s all about the little things we do for one another that make a difference in their lives. Reflecting on my involvement in our parish Bethany Ministry outreach brings to mind one of my most heartwarming experiences of a friend who reached out to me when I needed it. Many years ago I was off work for several days, sick with a really bad cold.

We all know how miserable you can be with the headache and sinus congestion, made worse when you’re all alone in the house and there’s no sign of any comfort food cooking on the stove. The phone rang, and it was one of my nurse co-workers calling to see how I was doing. “I’m going to stop by with some soup I made for you.” Well, I have to say my mood changed in an instant. I was getting some homemade soup! Cheryl arrived promptly with a hot Tupperware container, told me to take good care, and left quickly to minimize her exposure to my germs.

I couldn’t open that Tupperware fast enough. There it was: Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup. Looking just like the picture on the box. Tear open the packet, add water, heat to boiling, serve. I had to smile at my expectations that my young friend would bring me soup like my mother used to make. But you know, that soup tasted really good that day because somebody cared enough to tear open the packet, add water … and bring it to my door. It was friendship and caring, and as my Dad used to say, “You couldn’t buy that for a million dollars.”

It was faith in action. Bethany Ministry members seek to live out the commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself” as we reach out to our friends in our parish family who may be experiencing illness or some difficulty. We offer our prayerful supplications for their needs and do whatever we can to convey friendship, caring, and support. A pearl of wisdom from our church bulletin for Meatfare Sunday, the Sunday of The Last Judgment reads:

“All piety and prayer is ultimately directed towards the goal of serving Christ through serving his people.” “… for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you took me in, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and in prison and you visited me. For truly I say to you, if you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25).

Thinking beyond the literal interpretation of this Scripture passage, there are many ways to serve Christ through serving his people. It’s so rewarding to serve with my fellow Bethany Ministry members because of how people express their appreciation for a get well card, friendly phone call or visit, prayer shawl, small gift from the parish, or just a little help from their friends. It’s surprisingly easy to put faith into action … and rarely involves making soup from scratch.

For more information about Bethany Ministry go to www.archpitt. org/aboutbm/ and pittsburghmercy. org/parish-nurse-program/. Information of interest to nurses in health ministry can be found at