For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks a foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.- 1 Corinthians 1:21-22
Since my last post, the protests have gone from a weekly phenomenon to a daily event. The protest are organized by diverse groups. There are liberals, conservatives, the landless laborers, university students, teachers, and even architects. However, the homeless children and teens are absent from all these protests. In a way, they are just like us. They are outsiders. We are outsiders because of the gospel. They are outsiders because they have lost hope. The people who engage in the protests still believe in a better tomorrow. The homeless children don’t even think about tomorrow. I am not sure if they know what to do with their lives in the present. They watch the protests go by like us but they are oblivious to the fact that they are not part of anything happening in this city. They are here but their presence does not make an impact in society. They live in this city and yet they do not belong to it in a real way. These children and teens are lost in the midst of this turmoil.
I sympathize with the protesters in the city. I think that it is good that they are exercising their citizenship. They believe that they are doing something. I don’t know all their demands. There are too many groups frustrated and angry with the government. They share one thing in common. They believe that political reform will bring positive changes to society.
Jesus lived in a time of frustration and anguish. People wanted a political leader who would change everything. They hoped that Jesus was this leader. They wanted a change. Jesus brought change to this world. However, it was not the change the people were expecting. It was the change to which only the lost or the little ones in His society responded positively. It was a change welcomed by those who lived in the margins, which is the meaning of the gospel term for little ones. They had no impact in society similar to little children.
The question is why did only these little ones respond to the person of Jesus and not the rest of society?
Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”- Mark 2:17
The little ones in the Bible were the tax collectors, prostitutes, the sick, the lame, the very poor, the prisoners and the lepers. They were outsiders. They did not expect much from the established authorities because they had lost hope in the system. They did not believe in the established religion. They did not believe that political change would benefit them. Perhaps they exploited the situation to survive which made them more despicable to society and irrelevant. Nevertheless, the little ones were not expecting anything positive from political or social reforms. Perhaps this was why they were ready for the gospel. They did not have any illusionary hope that the government would help them.
In São Paulo, people predominately from the poor and middle class are marching in the streets because they believe that their happiness in some shape or form will come through political and social reforms. The homeless or the poorest of the poor do not entertain such illusions. They have lost faith in the idols of society. Not because they are wiser than the rest. It is just that they don’t have the resources to believe in these idols. Idols don’t come cheap and they are not accessible to everyone. The middle class still holds on these idols. The middle and upper class are religious, but in the conventional sense. God is one of the ingredients of life. He is not the only One. They believe that a happy life includes having God and…… You fill in the blanks. It could be wealth, family or power. None of these are accessible to the homeless. These are things beyond their reach. It does not make them more virtuous but it makes them open to believing that perhaps having just God alone can help them walk towards a happy and complete life.
It is quite uncomfortable to think this way; mainly because many will accuse me of being simplistic saying that I am spiritualizing the problems of the poor and society in general. However, I think it is very simplistic to think that political reforms can change society. It is even more simplistic and arrogant to think that this generation is going to be the one to do it. It is simplistic to think that we can solve the problems of humanity when a casual look in the mirror will make us realize that we are indeed very complex beings. I don’t claim to know the answer to society’s problems because I don’t think that there is an answer. However, we can point to the One who looks for those who are lost in this world. We don’t have a formula to solve the world’s problems but we know a person that can change the way we understand reality. He helps us see hope in a hopeless reality. This is the message of the gospel, a person and not reforms or theories, but a person.
The rest of society is marching and protesting and hoping that their false gods will answer them. They might not think that the gospel can bring the happiness that they seek. They might think that we are simpletons. However, for those who are lost in this society, they might be ready to receive and experience the healing touch of the Good Shepherd. The gospel is foolish to those who think that they are wise but it is power to those who receive it. We are outsiders because of the power of the gospel. I don’t disagree with the protesters and what they are doing. However, I think the Church in this time of turmoil has something more powerful to offer, not to mention more enduring.