Last week’s Gospel reading was that of “The Beatitudes.” I’m sure you all know it …
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy…”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God …”
That last one stuck with me, especially in light of all of the turmoil in the US following the inauguration of the new president. Clearly, none of what’s happened recently is anywhere close to peacemaking. Au contraire!
As a parent of a young adult with complex disabilities, I fear for all persons impacted by a disability—indeed, for all poor, marginalized and forgotten persons. I learned a few weeks ago that there is a challenge before the US Supreme Court about what level of education should public schools be obligated to provide students with disabilities. Really? That had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to figure this out? Shouldn’t the obligation be the same for all students? Isn’t every life of equal value?
The truth is that many people are afraid of persons with disabilities. And I dare say in some parts of North America, not a lot has changed from the world I grew up in during the 1970s. Back then, almost all children with disabilities were locked away out of the mainstream, or at least segregated. No one talked about them, where they lived, what they liked to do. There was a complete lack of understanding of those children and their families.
The same is too often true today. Some mock them, even dismiss them. Some even want to outright exclude students, especially those who can be disruptive, proclaiming that inclusive education doesn’t “work,” whatever that means. Students with disabilities are frequently written off, deemed to have little potential for learning or living an kind of independent life.
As those negative thoughts swirled in my head, I wondered how finding peacemakers was even possible.
Being Fearful Is a Choice
And then the communion hymn was sung, “Be Not Afraid.” This is a hymn that I most often hear at funerals which, I guess, is likely the reason it brings tears to my eyes.
The opening verse goes like this:
You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.
And then the refrain:
Be not afraid. I go before you always. Come follow Me, and I will give you rest.
There was my answer to finding the peacemakers. It’s all of us for none of us are called to be fearful. That’s not why we’re here. Au contraire.
We are called to live freely, fully and ever expanding. To serve others, especially the poor, the marginalized and the forgotten. To emphasize the beauty in each one of us. And we can do this knowing that Jesus is ALWAYS with us no matter what!
With Jesus in our hearts, anything is possible.
If [we] pass through raging waters in the sea, [we] shall not drown.
If [we] walk amid the burning flames, [we] shall not be harmed.
If [we] stand before the power of hell and death is at [our] side, know that
[He is] with [us] through it all.
Mike is the co-founder of Soaring Families—a new online community to empower families impacted by a disability to live more freely, more fully, and with more energy. Learn more at https://www.soaringfamilies.com