The sixties rock group, “The Hollies”, had a song once that said “Look through any window, yeah.What do you see?”The answer was “Smiling faces all around rushing through the busy town.”And that is the same question that I ask today.“In this day and in this society, what do you see as you rush through life and through the town?
We live in a time and a society where it is not easy to see the hard parts of life.We do not easily see the homeless, unless they are sleeping on the side of the street early in the morning. We do not see the sick or the hungry; we probably don’t even know what the oppressed look like. And we are so busy trying to keep up without our own lives we tell ourselves we do not have the time to look.Or is because we are blind or do not want to see.
It has been said that when the first pictures of the invasion of Tarawa, an island in the Pacific, in November, 1943, came back to the States editors did not want to show them in the newspapers and magazines.This invasion, which resulted in 3,000 United States Marine casualties, was one of the bloodiest and most costly of the Pacific campaign.It was a harbinger of things to come.Editors were afraid to print the pictures of the dead for fear of turning the American public against the war.Those pictures that were printed horrified the nation and almost prompted a congressional investigation.Against that backdrop of history, is it no wonder that we do not see too many photos of the dead Americans, killed in Iraq and Afghanistan?When will we see what is really there and not what others would have us to see?When, in this day and age, will we see that there are homeless, sick, and needy people in this country and that more that compassion for them is needed?
We are much like Joseph’s ten brothers, who in the midst of the famine and drought that Joseph had predicted, came to Egypt to beg for food for their families.In Joseph, they saw the rich young ruler and the imperial majesty that was the trappings of the office.What they saw was guided by a fear; a fear that this most powerful person would turn them away because they were not Egyptian.They did not see their younger brother, whom they had sold into slavery some time before.
But Joseph saw and knew who they were.Now, it would be have possible for Joseph to have ignored his brothers and their request for aid and help.But his heart was filled with compassion and his actions supported his compassion.He did not let the norms of society, which demanded revenge and retribution.
Our lives are too often driven by what society deems appropriate.We still live by the Old Testament adage of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”We have forgotten that Jesus told us “to turn the other cheek; to go the extra mile for the person, even if he were to offend you.”We do not see that when we act in the manner of others, we merely continue the cycle of violence and retribution.
Jesus spoke of the Pharisees as the blind leading the blind, of not seeing what was in front of them.The Pharisees’ heart was hardened and they were incapable of carrying out acts of compassion.The Gospel demands more than simply compassion for those in need; it commands action.This was something that the Pharisees could not give.
Jesus heard the cries of the Canaanite woman that same day that he called the Pharisees blind and unable to see.If he had been like them, he would have ignored her cries, for she was not Jewish.At first, when you read Matthew, Jesus does not answer her; in fact, He exclaims that his mission is to the lost people of Israel.But she pointed out that even the dogs of that time gathered up the crumbs of food that fell from the table.And with this demonstration of faith, Jesus granted her request of mercy and aid.Jesus was not going to walk by and allow one to suffer, even if that person did not meet the requirements imposed by a blind society.
The gifts of God’s grace and knowledge of God’s unfailing and never ending love that Jesus brought us are there for all to see and collect.But some people are too blind to see; some people are so bound by tradition that they do not recognize these gifts.But the hope and promise of the Gospel is that those gifts are there and will always be there.
There are times when it would seem that God has forgotten us.There are times when it seems that God does not see us in the sea of humanity that surrounds us and sometimes threatens to engulf us.Paul reminded the Romans and he reminds us today that this never occurs.God’s love is continuous and, though we may be imprisoned in sin, we still have the chance to be free.
The challenge for us today is to see the invitation to accept God’s grace and mercy as it is offered to us through Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.The challenge for us to day is to see that there are others in the world that are homeless, sick, hungry or oppressed.But the challenge is more than to just see that these individuals; the challenge is to reach out and make the truth and promise of the Gospel a reality for all to see.
Jesus is standing there, inviting us into His kingdom this day.What do you see?