"As they were leaving Jericho a huge crowd followed. Suddenly they came upon two blind men sitting alongside the road. When they heard it was Jesus passing, they cried out, ‘Master, have mercy on us! . . . The crowd tried to hush them up, but they got all the louder." - Matthew 20:29
The two sightless men sitting at the roadside made a huge scene when Jesus passed by, a big crowd in his wake. The crowd told them to shut up. But they refused. The got louder.
One of the unwritten rules of my upbringing was, "Don't make a scene."
It worked. I am averse to making a scene. And I don't much care for it when other people make one. The cautionary words of the great psychologist Erik Erikson are apt for a time when people make a scene easily and often, when social media gives them a trumpet. Erikson wrote, "Do not misuse one of the strongest forces in life -- true indignation in the service of vital values -- to justify your own small self."
But the other side of things is this: I am moved by those two men at the Jericho roadside, the two men who toppled the wall of a crowd with their insistent shouts, their refusal to be silenced. They weren't afraid to give voice to their needs, to their wants. "We want to see." The downside of "Don't make a scene" is it can be a way of telling us not to give honest voice to our own genuine needs and deepest truth.
Sometimes the don't-make-a-scene rule needs to be broken. Even when a whole crowd of voices outside or inside of us says, "Be quiet," we may need to defy those voices, speak, even make a scene. We need to have the courage to say what we need, to speak our truth.
And the two blind men in Jericho who toppled the wall of the crowd with their shouts?
Jesus heard and stopped, touched and healed them. But it did not -- Matthew makes a point of telling us -- end there. They didn't get healed and go on their own merry way. "They followed him." They went on the way of Jesus.
Grant me courage to make a scene, O God, when the essential is at stake. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul’s Letters to Timothy for a New Day. You can read Tony's "Weekly Meditation" and "What's Tony Thinking?" at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.