Scripture for this Sunday:
2 Kings 5:1-14; Psalm 30; Galatians 6:1-16; Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
Last week saw a human trafficking ring successfully exposed and prosecuted, with Hope for Justice figuring prominently, an organisation that assists victims of human slavery; and thousands of people in Manchester ringing bells for peace. Signs of hope in a dark and troubled world? What about the vast scale of modern human slavery? What about the conflict and violence of the past 50 years? Do we have “Compassion Fatigue?”
Yoko Ono, the muse behind Bells for Peace in Manchester, notes the challenge that peace has today:
The problem with peace is that it inevitably struggles to cut through our frantic, accelerated lives; it’s our responsibility to make space for peace purposefully, rather than expecting it to come to us.Yoko Ono
The Apostle Paul wrote: “let us not grow weary in doing what is right.” His words echo across time, together with a reminder that the harvest is something that comes to fruition in God’s good time, as long as we don’t give up.
History has plenty of examples of those who were willing to make sacrifices for the common good: William Wilberforce, who spent his life campaigning against slavery; Ghandi’s example of the power of peaceful resistance; Martin Luther King Jr., and his efforts in the civil rights movement; Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu in South Africa; culminating with the sacrifice of Jesus. Nowadays, few of us are asked to make major sacrifices for the good of the world; we tend to rely upon others to act on our behalf.
USPG, remembered in the prayer cycle for the Diocese in Europe today, has been doing so since 1701 – and although now joined by other Christian NGOs, sees its role to be as important as ever:
Environmental degradation. Turbulent global politics. Gender injustice. The desperate flight of migrants. Forced displacement of people at record levels. USPG believes today’s major challenges cry out for words and actions that express a love and solidarity that goes beyond narrow self-interest and national boundaries.USPG web site
The Christian community has at its very core Christ’s mandate to be out in the world as visible agents of healing. We can all find a role to play. The important part of what we do is not what result we achieve (that is why Jesus was apparently disinterested in the results of the 70 whom he sent out) but that we are part of a way of life that tries – that tries to offer healing, with the understanding that healing is needed in the world, with the expectation that whatever is accomplished is accomplished by God, in God’s time, and for God’s glory.
And despite the temptation to give in to fatigue, or to be overwhelmed, we could seek and find encouragement not only in Paul’s words, but in Jesus’ apparent subordination of the results of the 70 to the more important matter of their willingness simply to serve as visible agents of healing for a broken world, bearers of light into dark areas. We, too, are called simply to be visible, living, loving examples of what happens when we let ourselves be channels of God’s healing. And then let God be the judge of success or failure.