This article is the first of a series of articles on catechesis for and with persons who have disabilities.
We live in a time that has much to offer to the education of people who may need some accommodation in coming to know and follow Jesus. New technologies and means of communication constantly arise, which are put to the service of this noble aim. Unfortunately, our time has also seen abortion, euthanasia, and medical rationing threaten the lives of those whom society may deem “unnecessary,” with people often committing these atrocities in the name of “mercy.”
In early Greece and Rome, those considered “defective” were killed outright or left to die. In the Gospels we see that if a person was disabled in some way, people thought that it was because of that person’s sins or the sins of the parents. Jesus overturned this idea and instead cured the blind, the deaf, and those suffering from other disabilities. One only needs to read Mark’s Gospel to see Jesus cure people with these ailments and even raise the dead.[i] Matthew records Jesus’ mission entrusted to the disciples, highlighting the fact that even they would be involved in healing: “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons…” (Mt 10:8).
In this introductory article, I would like to establish the context for the series by drawing from my own experience with persons with disabilities. I beg your patience as I describe the experiences that will inform how I treat the issues raised in this series.