It feels good to imagine that we are champions for those who are materially poor or living on the margins. Until they want to live in our neighborhoods or show up at our front door. Cities regularly reject projects that would provide shelter and services to homeless people. As the saying goes, “Not in my backyard.” Sometimes we are like the people in the Gospel story about the blind beggar (Mark 10:46-52). When he cried out to Jesus for help, many people of the town scolded him and told him to be quiet. As happens today, they wanted to keep people with problems quiet and out of sight. Jesus never shared that sentiment. He invested the majority of his ministry in people who were largely ignored or outcast by others.
Jesus knew what it felt like to be an outcast. He was born in a stable among farm animals because his family was denied lodging the night his mother was about to give birth. He started his life as an outcast. When he grew up and went to minister in his hometown a jealous, angry mob drove him out of town after they tried to kill him. Eventually, an angry mob did kill him.
Many of us have been outcasts at certain moments of our lives. As children, perhaps we were left out of the games that other children were playing. As teenagers, maybe we were excluded from the “in crowd.” Others among us have been driven from their homeland or discriminated against because of ethnicity, religion or immigration status. In our own life experience, we know the feeling of being left out, overlooked or put down.
On Week 1 of our parish stewardship renewal, we reflected that as disciples living with thankful hearts, we are to grow daily in our love for God and each other. This week we see that we are to be of humble service to others, especially to those most in need. The healing of the blind beggar reminds us that with Jesus, there are no outcasts. He challenges us to think about who we might be trying to keep out of the backyards of our thoughts and concerns, or even literally from moving in next door. Maybe it’s time to welcome them and see how we might be of service.
Together in faith,
Very Reverend Christopher Smith, Rector