John Deacon, Honorary Director of 40 Oaks/The Christian Resource Centre and an advocate for the homeless, preached at Fairlawn United a couple of weeks ago. Once in a while I will share excerpts from a sermon I wish I could have preached . . .
Jesus not only identified with poor people, or what we might call the “deserving and noble poor,” he identified with the despised and alienated poor. He himself was poor. He relied on the monetary support of others, some of whom were women, who in those days were not known for having big bank accounts. For much of his public ministry, Jesus was homeless.
He was dependent on the hospitality of others, criticized for the company he kept and estranged from the inner circles of power and influence.
His death was the epitome of a man beaten - ridiculed and flogged by the justice system, despised and condemned by the religious establishment, abandoned by his followers, mocked by his oppressors, forsaken by God, alone and left for dead.
If we see Jesus as the man beaten by the side of the road, not only in the parable of the Good Samaritan but in daily life, everything changes. It begs the question:
How is it that we can worship a homeless man on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?
Much as we might like to think of ourselves as like the Good Samaritan, we also have to admit to recognizing ourselves in the two people who pass by on the other side of the road. Life is busy, we have deadlines to meet and trains to catch. We don’t have time for those whose needs derail our agendas.
Let’s be honest. We can fool each other, but we can’t fool God. More often than not, we do pass by. If we didn’t, there would be no need for this parable, no need for a Social Justice Sunday, no need for us to provoke each other to care for the people we can so easily ignore.
… we can hardly claim to be spiritually alive, if we keep our distance from those beaten down by life, whether by poverty, violence or prejudice.