The One Who Stopped the Parade

Written by Micki Ann Harris | ChattHOP Staff

 

 

He stopped for me.

 

Sophie Cruz will most likely be re-telling this story for the rest of her life.

 

Pope Francis visited the United States recently and was greeted by thousands as his procession made its way around Washington DC. In one instance, amidst the miles of barricades, very well planned security, and strict protocol, a little immigrant girl with a request broke through the restraints.

 

"As Francis passed, Sophie slipped past the barricade and started to walk toward the popemobile. The security guards stopped her in her tracks. 

But then the papal procession stopped, too; suddenly, the pope beckoned the little girl."*

 

The parade was stopped.

 

Carried by a guard, little Sophie was lifted to Francis to receive an embrace, a papal kiss and blessing, and was able to hand him her family’s written plea - enclosed in an envelope.

 

It was a moment captured in the middle of the street, which was “instantly beamed across the world.”

 

No matter your religious or political views regarding the Pontiff, few besides maybe the anxious security detail, could have been unaffected by this scene and many others like it in recent days.

 

This one, representing great religious authority, influence, and notoriety, making his way from one significant audience to another, stops for the one.* 

 

The usually unnoticed – like this girl or the boy with cerebral palsy, the prisoner, the abused and the poor, are met with tender affection, blessing and kindness – and we are moved more than we expected to be, embarrassed by the lump in our throat or tears brimming in our eyes. 

 

Why are we so moved?

 

Perhaps, it is in scenes like these, that the heart of God (who is love) is so purely and intimately demonstrated.

 

Perhaps we desire to be that one. That one who is singled out in a crowd.

That one who stops a parade.

 

Jesus, God’s heart in the flesh, often stopped to notice those looked over. Remember Zacchaeus, or the woman who touched His robe, the demoniac, and the little children he called near to bless. 

 

Love sees the overlooked. Love looks for the unloved. Love stops to love.

 

On one such occasion, Jesus is making His journey toward Jerusalem in the last days of His life. Quite a few are journeying with Him, and many others are anticipating His arrival into their city.

 

As the crowd draws near Jericho, they pass a man, begging alongside the road, who is unable to see what is going on.

 

In being blind, the beggar’s hearing is acute. I am imagining the usual day-to-day sounds of sounds of life and foot traffic at the entrance of the city had suddenly changed.

 

Perhaps he heard shouts of celebration, maybe there were those who were dissenting. Possibly, he heard some protective guards doing crowd control. Whatever was unfolding, the volume had increased.

 

The man’s interest being piqued, he grabs the closest person and asks, “What is happening?”

 

“Jesus is passing by,” he is told.

JESUS IS PASSING BY, he hears.

 

Unable to spot His direct whereabouts in the procession, yet knowing Jesus is near, the blind beggar calls out with a loud voice,

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!!”

 

“Be quiet!”  He is hushed.

 

But, the blind man “saw” that the answer to his deepest desires was close at hand. With nothing to lose, he would NOT be silenced. Like a geyser bursting with great force, his cry erupts - 

a longing for so much more than would fill a beggar's tin can.

 

"JESUS, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON ME!!" He shouted all the louder and all the more.

 

Can you imagine that sound? The sound of an accomplished beggar raising his voice to beg a plea like he had never begged before? This man so used to being dismissed, looked over, occasionally pitied and tossed a coin. This time, his voice would not be lost in the crowd.

 

He would be heard!

 

"MERCY! MERCY! COME TO ME! SEE ME! HEAR ME! DO NOT PASS ME BY!!"

 

Like a lure being cast into the sea, this cry of faith completely snags Jesus’ attention.

Jesus stopped.

 

Jesus stopped.

 

The crowd’s buzz is silenced; movement halts. Unseeing, the blind man perceives a total shift in the auditory and sensory realm of this surreal moment.  

 

He is summoned to come near.

 

A bit disoriented in this full-on attention, heart pounding with a measure of fear – an unfamiliar awareness that he has actually been heard – all of his senses standing in full attention, Jesus asks:

"What do you want me to do for you?"

 

There is no hesitation.

He has been practicing this prayer every single day of his blind and beggared life.

 

"Lord, I want to see."

 

"Receive your sight; your faith has healed you."

 

"Immediately, he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God."

 

Receive this bounty, blind beggar man. You have been heard!  

Receive the mercy that you knew He had to give. Your vision has healed your sight.

 

You saw what many others in the crowd did not see, and your loud cry and consequent healing opened more eyes than just your own.

 

The procession of Jesus, this parade of the redeemed, is full of such ones.
He is ever moving forward, ever stopping for yet another. 
His means of doing so? His people filled with Love — stopping for the one. 

 

What if it were you that day, along the side of the road as Jesus passed by?Your cry, from the deepest longings of your heart, reaches His ear.  

 

He stops.

 

The God of mercy, compassion and tenderness beckons you to come close.

 

"What do you want me to do for you?"

 

 

 

 

 

Endnotes:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/23/pope-francis-sophie-cruz-letter-immigration
“Stopping for the one” is a phrase coined by Heidi Baker.
Luke 18: 35-42