Pastor’s Blog – A Reflection of the Scripture Reading for Sunday August 28th, 2019
Scripture for this week: Luke 13:10-17
We look at the scripture lesson for today, and it is really easy to point fingers at the leader of the synagogue. The man is heartless. He cares more for rules and laws than he does for people. None of us would stand with him chastising a woman who had just been healed from a horrific disease; chastising her because the healing was done on a day when the rules say, ‘Do not work!’
Like all lessons that Jesus offers to us, there is more to the story. It is far too easy for all of us to fall back on laws instead of looking for a means of fairness or justice. For much of the history of our country, the Law said it is acceptable for white people to own black skinned people. The question is, were those just laws?
In all times and places, Jesus is challenging us to live loving and just lives. Jesus is challenging us to go beyond the laws to live lives of justice. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said so eloquently, “The moral arc of the universe is long, and it bends towards justice.” Sometimes, in order for justice to reign, unjust laws need to be challenged and changed.
I’ve heard over and over again people opposed to immigration reform state that immigrants who “break the law” should suffer the consequences. Unfortunately, these are perspectives that do not see the reality of how much responsibility the United States has for creating the systems of violence and poverty in third world countries. Before a person can say, “the law says,” it would be beneficial to deeply study the situation. Sound bites from news feeds will never prepare a person to bend towards justice.
Excellent resources for the conversation:
- The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation. Leo R. Chavez
- Living Illegal: The Human Face of Immigration. Marie Friedman Marquardt, Timothy J. Steignga, Philip J. Williams, and Manuel A. Vasquez.
- Injustice and the Care of Souls: Taking Oppression Seriously in Pastoral Care. Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook and Kathleen B Montagno.
I’ve heard over and over again that people in primarily Hispanic or black communities need to fix their communities. They need to change the way they live; they need to obey the laws. Learning to see the reality of the situation means learning how the laws have been crafted to keep non-whites from participating in the same economic freedoms that white people enjoy. For example, it was illegal for lending institutions to offer home loans to black families until only recently. Google search “mortgage discrimination,” and you will find volumes on a practice that is still occurring even if it is not legal.
An excellent resource to begin studying the way black people have been oppressed and are still not equal in America is:
Learning how to see as Jesus sees means educating ourselves instead of reacting to what we hear on the news. It means learning to look for ways to live for justice instead of living according to the law. The law will never bring us to justice. Only a life dedicated to living from the heart can lead to a just life.
In learning to see how to live a life of Justice, Parker Palmer has some powerful suggestions. He has written a masterpiece of a book reflecting on his life from the perspective of his new status as an octogenarian. From the book, On the Brink of Everything:
“My first suggestion is simple: be reckless when it comes to affairs of the heart. Now, lest someone think I’m trying to corrupt America’s youth—I’m looking at you, parents and grandparents!—what I mean is to fall madly in love with life. Be passionate about some part of the natural and/or human worlds, and take risks on its behalf, no matter how vulnerable they make you. No one ever died saying, “I’m so glad for the self-centered, self-serving, and self-protective life I lived.” Offer yourself to the world—your energies, your gifts, your visions, your spirit—with openhearted generosity…
If the unexamined life is not worth living, it’s equally true that the unlived life is not worth examining. So I’ll close with this brief quote from the writer Diane Ackerman, who reminds us to live—truly live—our lives:
‘The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day. Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length. It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.’”
I pray divine visions of justice for you.