In the Bible, we find this simple statement, “Jesus wept.” That statement is made in connection with the death of a young man named Lazarus. People have speculated for centuries as to why Jesus wept. It seems to me that Jesus wept because other people were weeping. Their grief became His grief. Jesus always identifies with the hurts of people. And those hurts include yours and mine. We too are involved, whether we realize it or not. This world of ours is connected by a network of need.
If we read the story of the final judgement in the gospel of Matthew, we will hear about two groups of people – those on the right side of Christ the King who helped people and those on His left who did not help. But if we look more carefully at the story, we will discover a third group. It is made of those who needed to be helped. Who were these people? Why did Jesus not point them out more specifically? He simple called them “my least brothers and sisters.”
A moment’s reflection will reveal the identity of this group. They were and are the entire human family. These are our people. This is the group to which you and I belong. At some time in our lives, not once but often, we all know what it is to be in need.
Most of us have never truly been hungry, but someday we could be. Today we may be feeling independent and self-sufficient. We have our health. We have our homes. We are surrounded by family and friends. We have food in our refrigerators and a little money in the bank. For all those things, we should be most grateful. Yet all of this could change in the twinkling of an eye. This very day, someone’s heart will be broken. Someone’s health will be lost. Someone’s support group could collapse. And that someone could very well be your and me.
When Jesus spoke of the needs of the world. He did not leave us out. His least brother and sisters included you and me. We are not spectators looking on from afar. We are already involved, whether we know it or not. Part of the pain of humanity is the pain that we have caused. Another part is the pain we feel in our own hearts and our own bodies. We cannot stand apart and objectively observe as the human race suffers and bleeds and dies. We belong to that race. All of us are tied together by a network of need.
So why is it, then, that so many of us are so reluctant to get involved in the process of healing and helping? I do not believe that most of it is a matter of indifference. I do not think that most of us do not care.
I think that it is mainly rooted in two factors. One is the size of the problem. The other is a sense of our own smallness. The world’s need is so great it overwhelms us.
We look at the size of the need, and we are overcome with a sense of futility. What can one person do? The answer to that question is: One person cannot do very much, but one person can do something. We can begin by taking our eyes off the total problem and focusing on individuals. That is what Jesus did. And that is what Jesus teaches us to do. He said, “As often as you did it for One, you did it for me.”
We cannot feed the entire hungry world. But we can help that one person or one family of whose needs we are aware. Because we cannot do everything is no reason to give up. Get involved, do what you can, right where you are. Then, in faith, leave the rest with God.