Something has been on my mind lately. I quickly commented this past week on my Facebook page…but I’ve been mulling it over in my brain ever since.
This week the Vatican held its first ever conference on Autism. The “Person with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Animating Hope” was held this week with Autism Speaks co-founders Bob and Suzanne Wright speaking.
The conference is was the largest of its kind gathering more than 650 experts from 57 countries.
“The Rev. P. Augusto Chendi of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers told reporters the aim of the conference and the papal audience is to “help break the isolation, and in many cases the stigma, that surrounds people affected by autistic spectrum disorders.”
In the spirit of inclusion and volunteerism, Pope Francis will call on the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to embrace people who have autism at the conference. This is the latest example of his efforts to make the church a “home for all” by rethinking social issues and the role of science, and by embracing people who are marginalized.” (http://www.autismspeaks.org/news/news-item/vatican-holds-first-ever-conference-autism)
Then, on Wednesday evening Tucker’s confirmation class read and discussed the story of the Good Samaritan. Need a reminder? From Luke 10:25-37…
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
What do I love most about this?
Go and do likewise. Places and people of worship talking about how to be kinder to those with special needs (who consequently don’t ‘behave’ in church) is right up my ally. We have been very blessed to be in a congregation where people are loving and accepting – AND MOST OF ALL...willing to learn.
Show Mercy. There is a strange irony in all of this. Families who have a child with some extra stuff going on need more support, more love, more kindness, more mercy. They often need church…but church folks aren’t always so welcoming.
Go and do likewise. How do we as Christians show more support, more love, more kindness, and more mercy?
Show mercy through teaching. Teach others about the why and the what.
Go and do likewise. Teach leaders how to show support in their congregations – reach out to these families.
Show mercy. Teach and remind leaders that love is a VERB. It’s something we do…it’s action, not simply something we say.
Go and do likewise. Teach others strategies to show kindness by not judging, not staring – but instead understanding and asking.
Show mercy…by teaching and doing likewise.
For more information on this please see these links: