Sunday, May 15, 2016

Take My Hand

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace. James 3:17-18

“Mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again!” Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out. He became like a corpse, which caused many to say, “He is dead!” But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up.  Matthew 9:25-27

When my way growth drear
Precious Lord, linger near
When my light is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand, precious Lord
Lead me on.

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I'm weak, I am worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand, precious Lord
Lead me home.

"Precious Lord, Take My Hand," is a gospel song written by the Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey (1899–1993).  Published in more than 40 languages, it was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s favorite song.  He often invited gospel singer Mahalia Jackson to sing it at civil rights rallies to inspire crowds; at his request, she sang it at his funeral in April 1968.  Then, Aretha Franklin sang it at Mahalia Jackson's funeral in 1972.

Ordinary time, indeed!  Sweet ordinary time, Welcome back.  Put our journey back in order.

So much is happening in today’s Good News.  Jesus is coming down off the mountain from the Transfiguration.  Jesus appears differently – in some ways maybe like the difference that will happen after the Resurrection.  Peter, James, and John have special, inside knowledge now of who Jesus is and what it means to be WITH Jesus.  Such an experience adds to the strength of their faith even though Peter will still deny his friendship with Jesus soon.  They also have been admonished not to share what just happened, not even with the rest of the Apostles.

Into the arguing crowd they enter and when Jesus is tested he poses the question that only Jesus can answer:  He said to them in reply, “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him to me.” 

The answer to the petition presented by the boy’s father is faith – faith that brings us together with Jesus.  This, too, is the difference outlined in the first reading between spiritual wisdom and earthly wisdom.  The qualities of the wise man endowed from above are detailed (Jas 3:17–18; cf. Gal 5:22–23), in contrast to the qualities of earthbound wisdom (Jas 3:14–16; cf. 2 Cor 12:20).

When we have the spiritual wisdom endowed from above, anything is possible.  Not only the foreshadowing of Resurrection but even an actual resurrection of the boy who appears dead after the spirit leaves his body.  Yet, being with Jesus, allows him to be raised up by Jesus from apparent death.  Being with Jesus removes every day from being anything but ordinary and common. 

Children were the symbol Jesus used for the anawim, the poor in spirit, the lowly in the Christian community.  Jesus wanted us to focus on service, especially to the poor and lowly.

Maybe we will not be asked to raise a child from the dead, but we are asked to serve the children who need help the most. 

A few years ago, the organization formerly known as the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging adopted a new name and logo.  CFCA is now known as Unbound.  The new name and logo are an expression of its work to help people break through the bonds of poverty.

“We work with families as they strive to achieve self-sufficiency and build strong communities,” President and CEO Scott Wasserman said. “We walk side by side with people who dream of freeing themselves from poverty.

Unbound is an innovator in the way aid is distributed, bringing groups of mothers together as part of the process and empowering them to create strong community connections. More than 93 percent of all the money the organization spends goes to program support.

In addition to sponsorship of children and the elderly, Unbound provides scholarships, disaster assistance, micro-loans and more through donations to special funds.  Consider supporting the work of Unbound to raise up children from the depths and death of poverty.  

“Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up.”  The same spirit that helped Christ raise this boy from the demon and raised Christ from the dead dwells in us.  We can drive out the demon of poverty through prayer and action.

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