... A striking example of the healing power of the cross is Jaime Jaramillo, affectionately known as Papa Jaime in his home country of Colombia. Papa Jaime is one of the stories in a book I wrote called Full of Grace: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Conversion through Mary’s Intercession. For many years now, he has single-handedly rescued children who actually live in the underground sewer canals of Colombia. Again and again, he picks up his cross and enters the sewers. Here’s how he speaks of his experience.
"When I patrol the streets in a rescue effort, I pass through dire poverty and hopelessness; when I descend underground, I enter into a surrealistic place of sickening darkness and endless nights, where children still wait to be rescued. There I see no love, no light, no affection—only desperation as they search in vain for consolation, for hope, for a hug, for a word of kindness. Yet there I find joy; I find my calling. I never draw attention to the hellish conditions in which the children live, nor do I treat them with pity. I act as though their surroundings were completely normal. My focus is on how I can help them. What moves me is love, and love is what can heal them.
Once when I was rescuing children from a sewer in Bogotá, I came up to the surface with my clothes wet and foul, and some people came up to me to tell me that they wouldn’t do that for a million pesos, and that they considered me a saint. I replied that I wasn’t a saint, nor would I do it for a million pesos, but that I enjoyed doing it because I did not act out of fear but love. My work for the foundation has always been, and will always be, only as a volunteer. I don’t receive any money from it. In 1990, I was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, but I preferred to be busy helping the children instead of filling out all that paperwork, so I decided not to enter my name.
When you love what you do and do what you love, you aren’t working, but only enjoying the richness of life. Rescuing the children is not a sacrifice for me. Nor does it imply any kind of suffering to find myself inside a sewer, surrounded by death and loneliness, because the sight of a boy or a girl with a full belly and a happy heart, with eyes filled with hope and faith, is a gift that gives me the greatest joy. My spirit, which feeds on service, can rejoice and vibrate with peace and happiness. (Full of Grace, pp. 90-91)"
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