March 11, 2017

Social Work in the Absence of Faith

"the value of observation over judgment was lost upon her, lost as she thought that her life was really somewhere else, somewhere not in this and every moment."

 Discerning rather than judging is hard; often it's really hard. We are reminded in most all the spiritual traditions east or west, about the practice of openness, of emptiness and the great gifts it brings when we are empty to receive in the here and now. Our life is filled moment to moment with the world and ourselves, filled to the top.
The militancy of  persons engaged in 'social initiatives,' 'community action' or the like is unnecessary in Jesus' world. Often it arises in moments of fearfulness, places where 'voids in faith' prosper.
The Christ's strength came from within himself to be shared with all he came into contact with. His peace became their peace, and his love their own.
Jesus, the Christ, reminds us of this when we read the gospels which tell of his decided indifference to the character and style of an individual life. Tax collectors, despots, harlots and others, he was willing to treat them, to attend to the great commandment of love for one's neighbor.

Who is your neighbor? The gospel of Luke 10:30-37 gives some clues:
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among robbers, who also stripped him and having wounded him went away, leaving him half dead.  And it chanced, that a certain priest went down the same way: and seeing him, passed by. In like manner also a Levite, when he was near the place and saw him, passed by.  
But a certain Samaritan, being on his journey, came near him: and seeing him, was moved with compassion: And going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring oil and wine over his wounds, and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  
And the next day he took out two pence and gave to the host and said: Take care of him; and whatsoever you shall spend over and above, I, at my return, will repay you.  Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to him that fell among the robbers?  He said: He that showed mercy to him. And Jesus said to him: Go, and do in like manner.

 It is not necessary to go far to meet one which you and your gifts may help. Neighbors are everywhere. If we are living in the "now moment," the present moment with its most pressing meaning, before long, we will come to understand our self first and our neighbor more clearly who is very human, like our self.
 It becomes clear that a thinking mind may observe and notice without casting stones or passing judgements. 
Questions, after all, are about listening. And they start conversations that may close gaps, increase confidence and strengthen community. Discernment and compassion in place of quick judgement is a valuable way to understand, and to love.

"If only we could be white as snow." 
-- sung by U2

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