In his letter from a Birmingham jail, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. responded to fellow American clergy who were asking him to wait for a better time to pursue the cause of justice in the South. “Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, ‘Wait,’” he wrote. “But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize and even kill with impunity your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society….when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness’—then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.” To call for those suffering to wait is to institutionalize our apathy.
The cries of the oppressed and the weary will continue to resound though many of us sit in comfortable apathy and languid affluence denying our own obligation. And the call of the vicariously human Christ can be heard in the midst of it all, urging us to set aside all that entangles and follow after him and into the very heart of it.