Yesterday we talked about the story in Luke 7 where Jesus raises a widow’s only son from the dead.
As you probably know, widows were at the bottom of the social ladder in the ancient world. But at least this woman from Nain had an adult son. Without a male to be attached to, society didn’t know what to do with widows, and so ignored them, silenced them. Jesus not only saved the life of the young man, he saves the life of the mother by restoring her dignity and place in society.
The importance of this story is not whether it really happened or not. The importance is what it is trying to convey to us about Jesus and the God that he served and shared. As we have come to expect from Jesus, it shows not only his compassion, but his understanding and concern for people’s feelings and situations. It especially shows his interest and concern in those who were at the bottom of the social ladder, those who had been silenced because of their situation. Jesus was consistently a voice for the silenced.
There are many, many people who are still silenced in this world because they are too young, too old, too new, or too fat. They have no voice or power because they are different – differently abled, different sexual orientation, different color, different religion or different language.
What if Jesus had seen the funeral procession coming and simply crossed to the side of the road with no compassion for the grieving mother? What if he had done nothing when he could have done something, said something? What if he had been silent instead of being a voice for the silenced? I asked this question yesterday, and the answer was, “But he wouldn’t do that!” It’s true, we can’t even comprehend Jesus doing that. Perhaps we need to pay closer attention to the example he is setting.
All around the country and the world, there are people who are being a voice for the silenced… and others who would prefer to silence the voice that stands for the oppressed and marginalized.
Yesterday, I spoke of a few of these situations, including the Black Lives Matter campaign, Muslim Americans, and LGBTQ folks. Please listen to the full audio if you’re interested in those stories.
(For the full audio version, click here.)
We need to learn to care, to have concern, and to take interest in others. We need to learn to get past our fears, to see others as part of ourselves and to be a voice for the oppressed, the marginalized, the poor, the stranger, the orphans, the captives.
Amnesty International is bringing together Europeans and refugees to stare at each other. Yes, stare. Studies show that it takes four minutes of looking into the eyes of another to fall in love. Not ga-ga in love, but to a place of feeling love and compassion for the other. I imagine it must be unnerving at first… to be that vulnerable with a stranger. I think we know intuitively, that our eyes are truly the window to our souls. If we look close enough, and if the other opens up a little bit, we can see into the depths there, to see the pain, the suffering, the fear, the worry, the love, the pride, the strength.
To follow the way of Jesus is to look into the eyes of another and to see oneself, to see God. To follow the way of Jesus is to cross the road to the side of the widow, the refugee, the person of a different color or orientation, the differently abled, the children… cross the road and offer a word of hope and healing, a smile, support, courage. We are called to be a voice for the silenced.