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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Powerlessness

“My brothers, if one of you has a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.”

Many years ago while visiting a young missionary friar in Central America, I learned of a struggle many women experienced in small mountain villages. Abused by their heavy drinking husbands, the women would not leave their villages. Initially, the friars thought the women were staying because of the vows they took when they married. Only after many visits did they realize they were staying with their abusive husbands because they had no place to go. Penniless, they felt trapped. With three or four children, it seemed impossible to them to go anywhere. Instead, they endured the abuse for the sake of their children, and the friars stood by them as best they could.
For those who work in the developing world, situations like this arise regularly, and sometimes I wonder whether the Apostles were saying something similar to the women of Central America when they asked Jesus, "To whom shall we go?" Indeed, most of the apostles were fisherman with few options. To what or whom could he return? Because they had risked leaving everything to follow Jesus, there was no place and no one to whom the could return.

It's good to remember this when we try decide how best to respond to immigrants new to the United States. Whether or not they have documents, most feel powerless. Most must speak in a second language. Few can return to their countries of origin with any hope. Unless we stand beside them in faith, they have no one.

Today ask yourself what you do when you feel powerlessness in the face of overwhelming problems?

How can we stand with the poor and the powerless in their everyday lives?

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