Jesus Falls the First Time

Station 3: Jesus Falls the First Time

    In your imagination can you see a friend, or yourself, fall on the ground? The cross became too much for Jesus, and he fell, he was powerless in the moment. Jesus falls each day in the homeless who suffer from mental illness and drug abuse.

    In San Francisco the estimated statistics are that 37% suffer from alcohol/drug abuse; and 35% from mental illness. It is difficult to separate these two figures because they both play into each other.

    In the story of the Gerasenes from the book of Mark  we read:

        This is the scene we see on our  the streets every day. Healing those who suffer from mental illness was a part of the ministry of Jesus. By extension it should be a part of our own. All of us have something to contribute, including those without professional or pastoral expertise in mental health care. We do not have to be therapists but the face of Jesus.

    Mental illness has biological causes, but it also impacts one’s spiritual life–the ability to find meaning. We all have a role to play in helping others restore their confidence, find support, and rediscover their value.

     We all fail in our care of the mentally ill and addicted, but Father Henry Nouwen calls us in these words to get up and to love deeply:


“Do not hesitate to love and to love deeply. You might be afraid of the pain that deep love can cause. When those you love deeply reject you, leave you, or die, your heart will be broken. But that should not hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love makes your love even more fruitful. It is like a plow that breaks the ground to allow the seed to take root and grow into a strong plant. Every time you experience the pain of rejection, absence, or death, you are faced with a choice. You can become bitter and decide not to love again, or you can stand straight in your pain and let the soil on which you stand become richer and more able to give life to new seeds.”

    In the same way we fail each time we criticize or condemn someone that we disagree with or simply do not like. Today it was announced that Rush Limbaugh has lung cancer, and many responses put forth have been to wish him much suffering and some death. Growing up I was friends with Mr. Limbaugh’s family, his grand dad was a partner in a law firm with my best friend’s dad. They are  conservative, but very decent people. When my dad was dying from lung cancer himself, the Limbaugh family often gave my mother and I a place to stay.  Through the years personally I have received death threats, and all sorts of painful “shit” said to me at first through the phone, than email and now social media, or all three. Those words  hurt, and tear me a part. For the most part from people who do not know me. What I have learned through my experience, and the pain in the experience of others who have been hurt by the judgment of people is that only in caring and loving each other can we truly find wholeness and happiness. Judgment belongs to God! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.,

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



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