What we can learn from the Veronica who wiped Jesus’ face

The Biblical Veronica must have been tempted to:
1. Wail and lament at the sight of death, as the Women of Jerusalem were doing.
2. Stay where she was and rail against the unfairness of it all
3. Adopt a my-hands-are-tied and that is his fate attitude.
4. Attempt to fight against the injustice by either convincing the soldiers that Jesus was the son of God, or by placing herself squaring in front of Jesus to protect him from the whip lashes

But instead she chose to step into the Lord’s shoes and understand what would give him momentary respite by wiping his face with her own sweaty apron.

I heard recently about a fourth grader from a prominent city school who is the subject of unwanted attention from her paternal grandfather, a man who has previously been incarcerated for raping another pre-pubescent girl, and who also frequently makes passes at his daughter-in-law. The ten year old’s mother is aware of it, so is her father, but the mother feels helpless and the father appears unconcerned. My first thought, after the revulsion and the mental cringing, was that I’m fortunate not to be the counsellor who has to try to do something to help the girl.

What can you really do in such a situation? The girl’s mother is a helpless housewife who thinks her hands are tied. When she spoke to the counsellor in question, she mentioned that she herself is an orphan, as if that justified not taking a stand. She has no authority of her own; she cannot ask her daughter to stay away from her father-in-law.

If I were the counsellor, I would probably have given away my life savings so that the little girl doesn’t get raped or sexually abused by the dirty old man. My option would be to convince the mother and daughter to move out of the house, set them up in a shelter and teach the mother a skill, so that she is able to support herself.

But often what we think is the best option might not seem feasible to the victim. I’m sure the girl’s mother considers her status as respectable married woman more important than her daughter’s safety. And more often than not, victims know the solution to the problem, if only we were to ask them for their opinions.

So, to the Veronicas of this world, kudos. For doing what you can without attempting to rock the victim’s boat. For entering the victim’s world and doing what you can to help, instead of being pig-headedly obstinate like me and suggesting impractical changes, or getting almost killed in the name of fighting for a cause.

Often temporary relief from a sympathetic well-wisher is all someone needs in order to bear a heavy cross.

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