The Poor, Crippled, Blind and Lame
In the Gospel of Luke chapter 14, Jesus shared a parable to illustrate what God's kingdom looks like.
He told his followers the story of a man who was preparing a huge feast for everyone in his village to attend, but when the invitations were sent to all of the "best" people, they all gave excuses as to why they couldn't come.
When he discovered that he'd been snubbed by his neighbors, the man tells his servants the following:
Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.I've read that parable hundreds of times in my life. I've heard sermons based upon it, learned about it in seminary classrooms and even preached on it a time or two.
But then I read a surprising and insightful interpretation of the story by Anthony Di Mello that completely turned my understanding of it on its ear.
Di Mello saw the text as not only an example of how God acts toward us but how we should act toward others--but not exactly how you might imagine. He ultimately viewed this story as a lesson in how to learn about the gifts of grace and mercy from the people in our lives who cause us grief, stir us to anger and sometimes wound us.
Di Mello believed that when we were finally able to embrace the truth of this story, it would set us free from our unhealthy attachments to these people.
These people, he writes are the true "poor, crippled, blind and lame," and when we begin to become more like Jesus, we begin to see them differently:
You actually feel a desire to seek out the company of these growth-producing crippled, blind and lame people... because each time you are with them, where before you used to feel the oppression and tyranny of negative feelings, you can now actually feel an ever-expanding compassion and the freedom of the skies.This Lenten season practice living into the truth of this transformative teaching. When you encounter people who challenge your peace, don't always seek to avoid them. Instead, linger for a moment, let the Spirit set you free from your attachments to them, and see what lessons of grace they have to teach you.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.