A modern parable and weeping for justice
Do not let Sunday be taken from you.
If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan.
- Albert Schweitzer
There was once a man a man named Christopher who lived in a new home, in a fashionable neighborhood. He worked very hard at his job and had little time left for his family. He did not go to church. No time.
One day his world was interrupted when a stranger knocked on his door. The gentle visitor posed no threat, so Christopher invited him to table for a meal. As they ate, Christopher became more interested in what the stranger was saying.
The language seemed archaic, but it had a familiar ring to it. “Blessed are the poor, and woe to those who are rich. Blessed are those who are hungry, and woe to those who have their fill. Blessed are those who weep, and woe to those who laugh now. Blessed are those who are hated, and woe to those who are spoken well of.”
After the stranger left, Christopher was puzzled about the stranger’s words. He had no way of understanding what the promises and threats meant. There was just no way of applying this to his own life, so he decided to file it away in his thoughts until later.
How are we to interpret the message of the stranger in the above story? We have a pretty good idea if we have been attending Sunday services all our lives. But even then, it is puzzling.
On a good day I might have to admit that I am rich, compared to world standards; that I am full, unless I am fasting or trying to lose weight; that I am laughing, since I know and repeat many jokes and puns; and that I am well spoken of, since I have many friends and few enemies. So how am I to face the final judgement?
The greatest gift God has given us is compassion. We cannot miss the suffering in our world. There is the pile-up of refugees at our borders, the homeless in our city streets, the hungry in every city and town, the deaths of the unborn in our hospitals and the list of inequities and injustices goes on.
The Greek word for “weeping” might be translated as "blessed are those who shed tears for those who are broken." We can weep for the destitute, empathise with the poor, and share our abundance with them. We need seasons of fasting and alms-giving in our lives. And we need to stand up for justice even when we are hated for it.
How does this all happen in our lives? I have noticed that many of those who follow us, Generation X, Y and Z, are also too busy to hear, too distracted to reflect, but too intelligent to ignore the calling of God.
I fear that sometimes we want to avoid spiritual realities and the fact of death by immersing ourselves in our work and pursuits, so that Sunday morning finds us not in church but at some really worthwhile or noble activity.
But at our inner core most of us acknowledge a profound spiritual hunger that persists. Continue seeking. “When God prepares the heart to hunger, He will prepare His hand to fill.” (Thomas Watson)