Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Thought

“Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of My Father in heaven.”  Matthew 18:10

Often this passage is taken as meaning small children, but the broader context would surely include not only small children but “infants” in the faith as well; new believers who are still trying to work out their connection to The Lord and to the Church (can’t know one and not know the other!).  The language of admonishment, however, is much stronger than we take note of because we do not often consider that we “despise” anyone as much as we just don’t “like” someone.  Yet the language challenges us to take a closer look at what it means to “despise” someone even if we are not actively seeking to do them harm.

The love/hate analogies throughout the Scriptures are much stronger than any particular feelings we may have (including ambivalence); in very nearly every context the love/hate speaks more closely of what we “do” or fail to “do” for others.  We love when we “do” regardless of how we feel, and we “hate” or “despise” when we neglect the needs of those who have legitimate needs or fail to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Small children and those new to the faith require the full attention, protection, and nurture of the Church.  Just as there is only one Body (which is Christ), there can be only One Church (of which Christ is the Head).  And the whole of the people of The Lord are commanded to care for those who cannot care for themselves, whatever the need.  To “despise” these is to decide that it’s not “my” business even as we become aware – and thus deny Christ Himself.  As is so often said not only in the Church but in the secular business world: if you become aware of a problem, it becomes your problem until it is resolved or until you ask for help.  To “despise” is to deny this reality because we simply do not care enough to put ourselves out except for those we “like”.

Social justice involves much more than a pet project for a particular cause, spewing bile toward those we disagree with, and cursing elected officials who do not succumb to our demands and do for the “little ones” what we are unwilling to do ourselves.  Social justice requires our active engagement not with political lobbies but with the “little ones” not to merely speak in their behalf but to “do” for them what they cannot do for themselves.  This is fulfillment of the Great Commandments to “love the Lord our God with all we have and with all we are” and to “love our neighbors as ourselves” which, as Jesus affirms, is “like the first [Great Commandment]”.

We cannot revel in our salvation while others suffer in their misery, and we must never demand of “Caesar” what we are unwilling to do ourselves.  The Love we claim to know is the Love we are required to express.  And we will never really know or even appreciate the depth of that Love until we actually engage in that Love.  It is our duty, it is our privilege, and it is our Lord’s blessing.



No comments: