Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The "Wandering Jews" of Today

1937 German anti-Jewish propaganda
I just had a phone call from George and Diane who have been staying in Worthing, the Council having relented mercifully from their original decision to abandon them to the streets, following some assistance from Brighton Housing Trust's solicitors.

I have to say, following my post yesterday on anti-semitic prejudice and resentment, that George and Diane experience first-hand a similar kind of stigma.

Apparently, yesterday the owner of the hotel in which Brighton and Hove City Council placed the couple, in Worthing, entitled the Wolsey Hotel, insulted George yesterday, this time not for "anti-social behaviour" but for "reckless caring".

Scandalously, George had committed the great crime of allowing Diane to cross the road in order that she may fetch something from her hotel room. Diane is not a toddler, nor is she unable to walk, but when the couple returned to the hotel George was castigated by the owner of the hotel for being a "reckless carer" for allowing Diane to cross the road unattended. The owner was so affronted by George's sin of omission that she said she wanted to cancel the room and put them on the street.  Diane then spoke up and told the owner thank you for her concern but she is able to walk across the road unattended. The owner responded that this should serve to them as a warning and that if she sees any more "reckless caring" then she will cancel the room. It sounds rather like she just doesn't like the couple and is looking for any excuse to get rid of them.

The couple are all too aware of the precarious nature of their housing situation. They are pretty much afraid to talk where they live lest they raise their voices too loud and be evicted for "anti-social behaviour". They feel they are walking a tightrope.  George is convinced there is a "conspiracy" against the couple, but in reality the conspiracy is that of the stigma of poverty, and, in Diane's case, mental illness. In general, evil forces do tend to conspire against the poor in society, as evil forces conspired to condemn Christ towards His trial, His judgement and His eventual Crucifixion. It is almost as if the poor of this World are sharers perhaps not so much in the redemption of mankind but in Christ's judgement at the hands of sinners and crucifixion. They are faced with cruel and harsh judgement and treatment at the hands of the wicked and have a heavy weight placed upon their shoulders. Usually, that weight is the ignorance, foolishness and even the sins of the rich and worldly wise.

When Our Lord talks of the 'eye of a needle' it is almost as if he is not just referring to how 'hard' it is for the rich to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. It is almost as if the 'eye of a needle' is His way, His road, along the Via Dolorosa, with the heavy beams of the Cross upon His Shoulder. This is a way which means being misunderstood, judged, despised, rejected, crucified and spat upon in this life. That is the way that the poor follow, not out of choice, but out of coersion and a lack of real choice. The stigma of poverty is very real. The stigma of addiction is very real. The stigma of mental illness is very real. Christ, the Stigmatised, who bore in His wounds every scandal and every offense of sin, bore also in His Body, the stigma and shame of the very poor. His Way, the Way of the Cross, is their way: that is why it is so 'hard' for the rich to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Apostles are scandalised by the 'eye of a needle', asking Our Lord, "Who then, can be saved?" The Lord answers mysteriously that for man it is impossible but everything is possible to God. How ironic it is that these Apostles were scandalised when the vast majority of them, too, would be rejected and martyred! Yet we, who are unlikely to be martyred, can take solace from Our Lord's words. He has walked through the 'eye of a needle' for us. What is impossible for us, is possible for Him, for He is both Man and God!

1 comment:

Left-footer said...

Perceptive, profound, and restrained, your post is powerful and moving.

Thank you, and God bless George, Diane, and you.

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