Friday, August 16, 2013

Jesus says: Follow the sick and wounded

Matthew 4:18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea--for they were fishermen. 19  And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." 20  Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21  As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22  Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. 23  Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. 24  So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. 25  And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

Matthew links following Jesus with acts of compassion for the most marginalised people in society:   “he said to them, "Follow me ... and they brought to him all the sick.....”  The link is unmistakable – if we follow Jesus we will find ourselves amongst those who are most vulnerable: people “afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics”.

Today our news reminds us of such people: In Egypt there countless families mourning peaceful political protesters who have been shot by the military; closer to home we in South Africa mourn the protesters who were shot by the police exactly a year ago at the Lonmin mine in Maricana. Both contexts arose from groups of people whose marginalisation from society led them to believe that public protest was their only recourse. And I suspect that the voice of Jesus can be heard echoing through the mists of time “Follow me to those who are wounded, and those who have died, and to those who are mourning”.  Our challenge is both to bring comfort to those who are hurting, and to address the causes of social exclusion.     

Ordinary 20 / Pentecost +13
42 The Kingdom Comes
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 261.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day

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