Sunday, June 10, 2018
Today, in Mercy, is a powerful Sunday!
In our readings, we encounter one of the more perplexing Gospel passages. Jesus, in the thick of controversy with the scribes and Pharisees, goes home to seek some respite. But the crowds follow, harassing him with questions and demands for signs. His friends and family are increasingly concerned for him, as the animosity to his challenging message rises. Some even think he is unhinged to jeopardize himself by confronting the evils and blindnesses of his society. His mother and brothers arrive, concerned for him. When Jesus learns this, he delivers what may seem a hard-hearted comment, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” — they are the ones who do the will of God.
With this question, Jesus is not disowning his family and those who love him. He is stating clearly that, rather than deter him from his redemptive work, they need to open their minds to the deeper purpose of his life. To use a contemporary phrase rooted in the socially conscious African-American community – they need to be “woke” people.
How hard it must have been for them! How hard to love a prophet, to fear for their safety in times when truth and justice are assailed!
Walter Brueggemann, in my all-time favorite book Prophetic Imagination, says this:
“In both his teaching and his very presence, Jesus of Nazareth presented the ultimate criticism of the royal consciousness (or self-serving power of the dominant state). He has, in fact, dismantled the dominant culture and nullified its claims. The way of his ultimate criticism is his decisive solidarity with marginal people and the accompanying vulnerability required by that solidarity. The only solidarity worth affirming is solidarity characterized by the same helplessness they know and experience.”
In today’s second reading, Paul is experiencing the same kind of vulnerability as Jesus. Paul says that he is not discouraged for:
“ … although our outer self is wasting away,
our inner self is being renewed day by day.
For this momentary light affliction
is producing for us an eternal weight of glory
beyond all comparison,
as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen;
for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.”
As Christians, we are called to live prophetic lives in imitation of Jesus. We are called to foster that kind of witness in others, to work together for that “eternal weight of glory”.
The prophet Dorothy Day puts it this way:
“As we come to know the seriousness of the situation, the war, the racism, the poverty in our world, we come to realize that things will not be changed simply by words or demonstrations. Rather, it’s a question of living one’s life in a drastically different way.”
On this powerful Sunday, the message is this: we need to be “woke” people!
Music: Wake Up My Heart ~ The Afters