Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
…. Those who are generous are blessed, for they share their bread with the poor. Do not rob the poor because they are poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate; …
James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17
…Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonoured the poor.
…So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty… What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? … So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre…
Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis…
They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
How easy it is to dismiss those on the periphery, outcasts, those who don’t fit. How often are these “the poor” we consider beyond the reach of helping. We may even see their plight to be deserving, a mark of their godforsaken choices. But God doesn’t see it this way and we as those who know God, know God in as much as we are faithful to his person and mission. We are to be as he is.
Jesus challenges our prejudices. The people of Tyre were beyond the pale for Jews and yet Jesus finds faith here and heals as he did the centurion’s daughter, not even being present in the room. Back in Galilee Jesus heals a mute with spit, a sigh and a word. The kingdom of heaven is for all and in every way! Even for those who appear rejected, demonised and afflicted, not even able to cry out. Jesus acts with compassion.
We feel compassion and faithfully pray. Our faithfulness causes us to persevere, to persist. It is as if we look on the world, where there is much darkness, and to us it is bathed in light. Our faithfulness brings light into the darkness, even into the darkness of our despair for others. Our faithfulness lights the darkness of others. Our reality in prayer is that we see the kingdom of the world and the kingdom of heaven, and through our faithfulness God is made present to us and those around.
James teaches us that God’s compassion is universal. We are blessed as we perceive this, and we serve without distinction and with all we have. We are called beyond the pale.