My reflection for June 28th
My maternal grandmother, whom we called Granny, was a lovely woman, funny, kind, and generous. She laughed a lot. She liked bourbon, and country music. She wasn’t the baking cookies kind of grandmother; she was more the driving fast in her convertible kind of grandma. We were all happy to go to granny’s house.
She also reminded me regularly to stop slouching. “Stand up straight” she’d say, threatening to tie a board across my back.
Now, to be honest, I didn’t appreciate this critique, nor did I believe it to be true and I ignored this particular point.
Of course, she was right; I did slouch – correction, I do slouch – still. And she was right that I would be sorry later as my back regularly reminds me.
And from the examination of my own life and the close observation of others; it is my belief that most people like hearing neither about their mistakes, nor about the likely negative impact of their choices. Nobody wants to hear they are wrong.
And when the people telling us we are wrong aren’t our otherwise beloved grandmothers; we tend to extend our dislike of being told we’re wrong to not also liking those people. This is the gist of the old axiom about “shooting the messenger;” we often prefer to castigate or find fault in the messenger rather than hear what they have to say.
In our tradition of faith, we have a word for people with a propensity to tell us truths we’d rather not hear – we call them prophets.
And as a quick study of our Bible would show you; people rarely are eager for the words of the prophet and if the prophets are luck they are only ignored, though they are often unlucky instead.
The story of Jesus is, of course, the A number one example. Jesus is an inveterate truth-teller. Sometimes his truth telling is welcomed; think of the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well or Peter and Andrew and James and John being told they would fish for men.
Sometimes, the truth is less welcomed such as when the good people of Nazareth, his hometown no less, try to throw Jesus off a cliff after he preaches in the local synagogue.
And of course the leaders of Jerusalem and of the Temple, who were so unwilling to hear Jesus’ truth that they plotted to shut him up for good.
But the thing about Truth is, as the plotters against Jesus learned, that it has a way of asserting itself regardless of your willingness to accept it. Reality always wins in the end.
And we are seeing the truth assert itself in myriad ways, right now, in the wider world.
Pretending that the coronavirus won’t get you if you’re young, or like red hats, or live in a nice neighborhood, or whatever has led to our nation being the only industrialized nation in the world seemingly unable to come to grips with a virulent and deadly pandemic. We are shown to be exceptionally inept – at least outside of a few places, which thankfully include New York.
We have seen that the promise of the American dream has been systematically denied to a large swath of our fellow citizens. We have witnessed, perhaps more clearly and cruelly than ever, the perverse indifference to life, morality, and public sentiment that some of those empowered on our behalf have shown, especially to our brothers and sisters of color.
We have seen that we are dependent for our lifestyle upon a vast cadre of workers who are not paid enough to even begin thinking about taking their shot at the American dream, who risk losing their already meager health coverage, and who face regular abuse at the hands of those who depend upon them.
As Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection show us. Injustice cannot stand against the weight and power of Truth. Jesus could not be silenced. God cannot be silenced. Ignored certainly, but not silenced nor stopped.
God’s justice will be done. We are not impervious to it, and we can either be on the side of the prophets, on the side of Jesus or we can join the crowd who prefers to shout crucify him instead. There is, unfortunately, no middle ground.
We must stand for justice and, or be prepared to be swept aside.
Give thanks to God.