Toward practical resurrection

Daily Reading for October 31

Three weeks after Celusim’ne’s death her mother turned up at our nutrition office. She placed before me two bulging baskets of large, ripe Haitian grapefruits. She had walked six hours from Bouly in the hot sun just to offer me this gift. I was overwhelmed, speechless under the generous donation of such wealth out of such dire poverty. “But . . . we failed,” I wanted to say. “We didn’t save her.”

But then I saw the gift for what it was: her act of resurrection in the face of death. This was her work of hopeful solidarity. More pointedly, for me her gift was a sacrament of understanding and perception; through it I began to learn how it is that Christian solidarity can and should move from failure to serious hope, from hiddenness to revelation, and through death toward life.

Herein lies a central principle of Christian solidarity often neglected in certain ecclesiastical circles that issue amorphous calls to “social justice.” Far too often we see but do not perceive. We must learn that it is not we, Christians of the developed world, who bear the right to define the contours of our companionship with the poor and the suffering. Rather, it is the poor and the suffering themselves who bear that right. It is they whose knowledge of death and marginalization is terribly intimate, and thus it is often they who can point us the way forward through destitution and toward practical resurrection. Our task, then, is as much one of listening to and understanding suffering as it is a responsible and determined work toward its alleviation.

From “Solidarity with the Suffering” by Justin Mutter, in The Scripture of Their Lives: Stories of Mission Companions Today, edited by Jane Butterfield. Copyright © 2006. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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