Jesus, the Marginalized, and Us

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA
Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

Many times we’ve sung the lyrics to the song, “We Are Called,” in which the refrain begins with the verse, “We are called to act with justice.” Or perhaps you’ve watched the television show What Would You Do? with John Quinones and questioned what your own actions would be in a particular circumstance of injustice. When it comes to responding to injustice, as followers of Jesus, we are reminded of the Gospel message in Matthew 25:40 “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'” Jesus describes the “least of these” as the hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick and imprisoned. We might describe the “least of these” as the marginalized who society does not want anything to do with or with whom we do not want to relate. Many of us may retort that “they” should be able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

Recently, my stepdaughter who is a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient and Medicaid holder, was hospitalized. She is among society’s group of poor and disabled with PTSD and has been experiencing life-threatening health issues stemming from a kidney transplant. She has had a difficult life for many reasons. During her hospital stay, she endured admonishing statements from the medical staff for being a Medicaid patient and the subsequent prejudices this status seems to evoke. She cried that all she wanted was to be treated with respect and that her economic status should have no bearing on her level of treatment. Why must she suffer the pains, not only of trying to heal from her physical ailments, but also from the injustice of a system that frowns upon having to treat the poor and the disabled?

My stepdaughter’s encounter with injustice challenges me to examine my own level of involvement in combating injustice. I am forced to face my own naiveté about what the marginalized face and to become more aware and active in addressing these injustices. We are told in Proverbs 31:8-9 to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

We are confronted then with examining our own conscience and asking, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?” (Matthew 25:37) Did we act justly, advocate for the marginalized, and see Jesus in the face of the “least of these.” What is Jesus’ call to us? How do we respond with conviction to the verse in the aforementioned song, “We are called to be hope for the hopeless, so all hatred and blindness will be no more!” Completing the refrain from this song, we are exhorted to love tenderly, to serve one another, to walk humbly with God. What are we waiting for?

Posted in God Calling?, News

One response to “Jesus, the Marginalized, and Us

  1. What a powerful reminder that the marginalized are not “out there’ somewhere waiting but they are those who walk daily in our midst. How would my actions be different if I truly saw the divine in the other regardless of their status in this world? Mary Ellen, thank you for reminding me of the Gospel’s mandate.

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