The Fifteenth Sunday Ordinary Time
2016 – Cycle C
Deuteronomy 30: 10-14; Psalm 69; Colossians 1:15-20; Luke 10:25-37
Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota. Dallas, Texas.
What is happening in our nation; in our world? These incidents continue the sad litany of Ferguson, Sandy Hook, Columbine, Orlando, San Bernardino…alongside Paris, Baghdad, Medina, Brussels, Dhaka
All of these acts of violence and murder in our nation have been perpetrated by Americans on Americans. Are we a people who is imploding on itself? The nation and our government seem impotent at best and unwilling at worst to act. Videos instantaneously go viral on social media without context or reflection resulting in raw emotions, blame and calls for the police, police chiefs, mayors, governors, who are all held responsible within hours, to step down. The Constitution is treated as if it were the unchallengeable and infallible Word of God rather than what it is: a human document bound to a particular time and culture. Fear is shrouding us causing many people to lash out. Has not the coarse and vulgar language of public discourse today from politicians to our entertainment to a conversation, rather shouting matches, over neighbor’s fences, not set a tone; a tone, not of intolerance but of disrespect? No one wants to be tolerated but we all desire and deserve respect.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit organization that combats hate, intolerance and discrimination through education and litigation, reports how this coarse discourse and violence are affecting our children. They report a rise in fearfulness of the future especially among minorities and descendants of immigrants and of bullying and violence in schools. Young people are simply copying the behavior of adults.
In relation to this I have to ask, why would any person want to be a police officer today? Have you noticed that when an officer is involved in the shooting of an individual – they disappear? We hear from distraught family members, neighbors and strangers all across the media proclaiming guilt within hours while the officer, his family and friends are nowhere to be seen and I expect are under orders to remain silent. What of their pain and suffering? Consider. What is it like to shoot another person to death, whether by accident, from profiling or racism, out of fear or misjudging a situation that escalated? Just the raw act. Where is understanding and at least a non-rush to judgment, for those sworn to protect us?
That has always been my one of my fears as a priest in the light of the sexual abuse scandal. As with many priests, if you are accused, you often disappear and never get a day in court. And few remember. And so with the violence and murders in our country. There will be the required condemnations by officials, the funerals, the ribbons, the protests, the investigations and trials and then? – and then we will all forget until the next incident and news cycle. These acts of violence teach us nothing; spur us on to no action; no change. We are weary.
At the heart of our Christian faith is an act of violence. The torture and state sponsored killing of a human being – the murder of God.
At the heart of today’s parable is an act of random violence. A person is robbed, stripped naked, beaten and left like trash in the gutter of a street.
At the heart of this Eucharist is an act of violence. The crucifixion of Jesus. The violent death of any person. The breaking of bread – the tearing of a body. The pouring of a cup – the spilling of blood. At the heart of the Eucharist is a sundering of the fabric of the universe.
If Dallas, Baton Rouge and Saint Paul teach us nothing; do Jericho, Calvary and this altar?