the poor do not exist, pt.5


Jesus himself also focused his attention on healing people at the deep spiritual level. This is obvious in his preaching and in stories like the one where he first responded to a paralytic's spiritual need, then told him to rise and walk, "that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins." (Mk 2.10) But also in his other healings, Jesus made it very clear that the physical healing was an outward sign of what was happening in the person spiritually. "Your faith has made you well." (Lk 8.48, 17.19, 18.42) And when people did not come in the right spirit, Jesus did not offer physical healing (Mt 13.53-58, "And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.") His response was similar when people came to him seeking only food (Jn 6.23-66); instead he gave them a challenging teaching. "After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him." Yet this didn't deter Jesus, because his focus was on our most important need; if people weren't willing to admit that need and address it, he let them go. Jesus wasn't fighting poverty, or solving the problem of the poor. He came to meet the deepest human need, a spiritual one, of which all other problems are merely symptoms.

Heather and I are leaving in May, and will be visiting the place where we may be serving next. It's the St. Francis Catholic Worker community in eastern Virginia, not far from Washington, D.C. They've been there over twelve years, out in the country, offering hospitality and spiritual retreats for poor people who want to heal and deepen their spiritual lives. I hope to be able to apply much of what I've learned here. Please pray for us, as we will for you.

That's it. It will probably appear in our upcoming newsletter. The full essay is available here (as an RTF file).