The icon, “Our Lady of Perpetual Help” hangs in many homes and churches all over the world. When in trouble, the afflicted just naturally seek out the Holy Mother who understands and can offer comfort.  When down and oppressed by life, Mary beckons us into her arms. She is not only our fiercely protective Mom but also the first apostle chosen not from gentility but from the marginalized. She was young, a woman without any rights, vulnerable, Jewish, pregnant before marriage, misunderstood, exiled, a refugee, and economically challenged.  Precisely because of her lot in life, she best exemplifies the gospel mandate to comfort the afflicted among us. No matter how we rationalize or try to justify our self-serving ways, there is just no way around it, we are called to reach out generously in this same way.  Eyes wide open, the afflicted are not that difficult to find. Some are right in our own families, churches or neighborhoods.  Some don’t look or act like us. Some are disguised as wealthy, educated and fearless. Whomever they are, perpetual help is only one arm-length away, through Mary, through all of us.