Mike and the Beggar 10-28-2018

A few years ago a father and mother sent this open letter to the parents and students of a high school in a southern city.

Dear Teens & Parents:
We buried our son Thursday. He got into bed Tuesday night and very deliberately took his own life.
Mike was bright, handsome, witty, shy and with ease did well in school. His phone rang constantly and his friends were in and out of the house all the time. The Coroner’s report showed no drugs.
In reality Mike had lots of friends. Each individual, however, has their own perception of reality. Sunday night, Mike got drunk and we had a long talk, and for the first time we realized that our rosy perception of the state of his life wasn’t his. He was very sad. He felt his friends didn’t care about him – even though we know they DID.
We believe you all can help God make this world a happier place to live. Somewhere between the ages of 20 and 35, people begin to feel secure enough to tell their friends “I love you” or “I’m glad you’re my friend”. Please be brave, because at your age it is a scary, chancy thing to say; but please tell your friends that they are your friends and you do care. This is most important because a person can feel most alone when surrounded by people.
There are also some in your school who truly have no friends. Their phone never rings and friends never come over. Please make friends with them. They are really lonely. If Mike felt such despair when he had friends, just imagine the sadness and loneliness those teenagers must feel and endure.
God put each of us on earth to do good and bring joy. Please help make Mike’s death bring love and joy to the world in a concrete manner.
Growing up is very hard and there is so much each of you must sort out for yourself. Your parents and family are there, but your peers are so important too. Please, please open your hearts and tell your friends how much they mean to you. – Love to you all.
The letter was signed by Mike’s mother and father.
It took a lot of love and courage for Mike’s parents to write that letter. That’s what makes it so beautiful. That’s what makes it so powerful. That’s what makes it a letter that every young person and parent should read.
I think it’s especially appropriate for us to read it today, because the blind beggar in today’s gospel might well have been about Mike’s age.
Like Mike, he was trying to reach out to Jesus as best he knew how. And like Mike, he sought help from those around him.
But like young Mike, instead of getting help from those around him, the blind beggar got just the opposite. Instead of getting support from the crowd, he got abuse and outright rejection.
Today’s gospel says that when the beggar called out to Jesus, “Son of David! Have mercy on me!” many people yelled at him and told him to keep quiet.
In other words, instead of taking the beggar by the hand and leading him to Jesus, they took him by the neck and shoved him farther away from Jesus.
Only one person came to the beggar’s aid. And who was that person? It was none other than Jesus himself. When Jesus heard the people shouting at the beggar, he stopped and asked that the beggar be brought to him. Only then did the people change. Only then did they help the unfortunate man.
Today’s gospel prompts us to ask ourselves, how many Mike’s and how many blind beggars are there in today’s world?
How many of these Mike’s and how many of these blind beggars are trying to reach out to Jesus?
How many of these Mike’s and how many of these blind beggars are being treated the way the people treated the blind beggar in today’s gospel?
How many of us, perhaps even without realizing it, are discouraging these Mike’s and these blind beggars?
Even more to the point, today’s Gospel invites us to ask ourselves, who are the Mike’s and the blind beggars in our own lives and what are we doing to help?

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