Sometimes, There Is No One To Blame

When we see someone who is truly down and out, such as some homeless man or woman living on the streets, we try to figure out what happened to them. What has led them to being in such a bad position?  Was it something they did? Was it something others did to them? Who, exactly, is responsible?  Some will try to blame the man or woman whom they see, others will blame society. Perhaps, in some situations, both claims will have some validity, but we must not use particular cases to make for universal claims. Sometimes neither the person, nor society, is at fault, but rather, circumstances which are outside of anyone’s control leads someone to being in such a bad position. For example, what could make someone homeless? While, it is possible they did not pay their bills, another possibility is that some natural disaster such as a tornado, an earthquake, or a hurricane, recently destroyed their home and they have no place to go.  And so, while no one is culpable for what happened to them, society still has a role in determining what happens next, and if it does not find a way to help them, or any other homeless person, society certainly will certainly be held culpable for not dealing with the situation properly.  Also, what happens after we meet someone who has becomes homeless, whether or not we help them, in whatever capacity we have to help them, will be on us. We are expected to help people in need. Certainly, we might not be able to do much; we might not have money to give, and people might not listen to us if we challenge society to find a way to help them, but we must admit, even a few words of encouragement, a loving gesture which looks at the person as a person and not as an object to be scorned or even pitied, will give them some of the consolation and support they need to continue to push on to another day. And, of course, we can and should include them in our prayers, recognizing, of course, that if we can do more than pray, we should. Nonetheless, it is normal for us to try to understand how a person got into such a situation; we must not do so as a way to excuse ourselves, or society, from doing what we can to help the person; we must not try to find excuses to ignore them, their needs, indeed, excuses to disregard their plight. We should first focus on those needs, and then, in the process of helping them, determine the rest, if we can, realizing, though, sometimes a person is suffering because of no single fault which can be placed upon anyone. This is one of the messages we can get with Jesus’ encounter with a man who was born blind:

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