In Sunday’s gospel, we heard the story of the blind man who shouted out to Jesus for mercy (Luke 18:35-43). Our priest then delivered a sermon on this story. The crowds of people rebuked the man, telling him to be silent. Why? His outcry was, in the words of our priest’s homily, “gumming up the works” of the throngs who were on their way to Jerusalem. These people were headed there, because it was where they supposed that Jesus was soon going to be crowned king. Now wasn’t the time to be distracted from their important procession, especially by a loud and obnoxious beggar trying to get their attention. The crowds had more important things to do. But Jesus heard the cries for help, recognized the human need, entered into a conversation with the man, and healed him.
As our priest said, before we come down too hard on the crowds, consider how many times we are too busy to take notice and help a homeless person on the corner, or to rake leaves or shovel snow for a neighbor in need. How many times do we march on with our plans, shushing the voices of the marginalized crying out for help?
And what happens when we choose to avoid areas where there is great human need? It’s easier to drive through the nice neighborhoods, select school districts that aren’t brought down by poverty, build our churches in safe suburbs. If we move far enough away from the shouts, we might successfully be able to pretend that need doesn’t exist. Not to mention that many people living in need have already been shushed and no longer know how or where to turn. Maybe there are people (with obvious needs or not) who have attended our churches whose voices (shouting or not) weren’t heard or welcomed, and have been shushed.
Like the four friends who ripped off a roof and lowered their hurting friend down to Jesus for healing, sometimes we need to be the advocates for those who can’t get close because of the crowds. We can be the ones to stop the mad rush of busyness and misplaced priorities. We can stand next to the blind man and join him in shouting to get the attention of those who can help, “Have mercy!” Sometimes we need to gum up the works.
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We love hearing from you! We recently received a question from one of our listeners:
“I'm enjoying your podcast and especially as new convert to Orthodoxy would be interested in resources to deepen my understanding and practice of actively caring for the poor. Are there certain books or other resources that you recommend? Thanks for all your efforts to educate and stretch us toward compassion.”
This is an excellent question and one that we are asking all of our readers and listeners to help us answer. We’re planning to add a Resources section at our website, and ask you all to send us your suggestions. What books and other resources have encouraged and challenged you to active compassion for those with materials needs? Use the contact form at our website, www.thesecondliturgy.com, or contact us via Facebook or Instagram. Thank you!