16 Pentecost, Sept. 9
To be truly human is to feel and know human weakness as the human lot. A deep concern is born of this. “Do not rob the poor because they are poor or crush the afflicted at the gate” (Prov. 22:22). Seek justice for the oppressed. Give food to the hungry. Visit prisoners and help them go free. Watch over strangers. Uphold orphans and widows. Be truly human and deeply humane. Show concern for the blind and deaf, the lame and voiceless. What are you but a human being? The grass whither, the flower fades. There is no weakness you will not know. Human strength and wealth are really, in the end, only human weakness. “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish” (Ps. 146:3-4). We all go down to the dust. To be human is to be weak and frail and vulnerable. This acknowledgment is the wellspring of all human sympathy and the gateway to all good works.
The compassion of Christ our Lord digs to the bottom of human frailty. Jesus is with us all the way down to the marrow of our lost being. Thus, he comes as compassion itself and he comes with the power to heal. He heals the daughter of a Gentile woman because she pushes the limits of love. “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” (Mark 7:28). Impressed by her wit and boldness, Jesus says, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter” (Mark 7:29). Are we bold enough in stating our need? He heals a deaf man, touching his ears and tongue and saying, “Be opened” (Mark 7:34). Jesus does everything well because he is the great physician. Indeed, he makes all things new.
His works are many: the eyes of the blind are opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped, the lame leap like deer, the tongue of the speechless sing for joy, the oppressed and imprisoned are set free, those who are bowed down are lifted up, strangers are watched over and welcomed, orphans and widows are upheld (Isa. 35:5-6; Ps. 146:7-9). In a word, the dead are raised. Jesus has done this and is doing this, and he has appointed his church and all its members to be, often in ways small and discreet, compassionate healers. He sends us out, by his Spirit, into a wounded world.
He does not, however, send us out rushing in every direction to unload good works on unsuspecting victims of Christian charity. Rather, we go out when called, and as we are called, and we respond to the truth of a situation and the reality of human lives. For this reason, love must walk lightly and pay attention. What does this situation ask of me, if anything? What am I called to do, or not do? Love listens to the moment.
We are not merely those who heal, but are always those who need to be healed. A disciple of Jesus Christ knows that a wound has been put in the flesh precisely to keep one humble and open to healing from whatever source. Someone may touch your eyes, your tongue, your limbs, your broken heart. Take the healing and stay supple to the imprint of grace. When I am weak, then I am strong.
A disciple of Jesus Chris is first and foremost, and in the best sense, a human being, a new human being, a new being.
Look It Up
Read Proverbs 22:22.
Think About It
We share common humanity.