In the gospel passage for today, Jesus heals a blind man sitting in the roadside. A few elements in the story stand out to me. The first is that when the man calls out to Jesus, others around him tell him to be quiet but Jesus calls him to come over. Secondly, when he gets there, Jesus asks him what he needs. Last, Jesus heals him and tells him to go along on his way.
I was thinking about this passage in relation to the caravan of women, men, and children that is traveling from Honduras through Mexico and towards the US border. From some quarters we hear voices suggesting that we ought to ignore these people who are fleeing violence and poverty in their homelands. I recently read a Facebook comment on a related story that suggested we need in the US to save our resources for ourselves. I wonder if the people around Jesus also thought that Jesus could not be bothered by the crying out of the blind man because he was busy with other people who drew on his energy. Yet Jesus provides a model for us to extend ourselves to those in need. Imagine if we welcomed those in the caravan at the border and called them over, across the road as they rested on their way, and invited them to cross over to us.
Jesus also models for us that one way we serve well is when we do not presume we know what others need, but ask them. Most adults are reasonably good at identifying their own needs. We do not need to reassure ourselves of our own power by presuming we always know what is best for another—like whether to flee violence or to seek a new land that offers the possibility of peace. We can, however, ask those who arrive: what do you need? How may I serve?
Last, to the extent that human beings can offer one another peace and healing in what ails us, it’s noticeable that Jesus then frees the man to go on his way. Yet he chooses to stay and to follow Jesus “on the way.” When we enact works that heal and build up, we strengthen or own and others’ relationships with God. But the stronger our relationship with God, the deeper our relationships also grow with one another. These relationships are then grounded in freedom, a freedom to love others with and in God. We might ask ourselves, when we welcome the stranger at our borders, call her over and allow her in, are we not only serving her needs, but also coming to know God better through one another?