Often the mail brings thank you notes from organizations that we support. I opened one this week from the Tosa Community Food Pantry, thanking us for our support. They noted, “We need your donations to keep our shelves full at this time of need.” Our support does make a big difference for these organizations. Thank you.
I am writing the first draft of this letter on Friday, February 26th, the first anniversary of the shooting at the Miller brewery. The community where I live is right behind the brewery and we were locked down into the night.
Shortly after it happened, I described for you what two of my community members experienced. Fr. Jim, who is White, approached the check point closest to our house, showed his driver’s license with his address, and was allowed to go home. Simon, who is Black, did exactly the same thing and was refused entry multiple times. There is no explanation for the difference except skin color.
This incident came to mind, as well as what happened to George Floyd and others, as I reflected on this weekend’s Gospel. Jesus is angry at what is happening in the temple: vendors, conspiring with the religious leaders, are fleecing the poorest of the poor and lining their own pockets. The “perfect Jesus” was angry and took action, but it was a righteous anger, an anger directed at those who would take advantage of the poor and vulnerable.
If we are to be true followers of Jesus, if we want to live as he lived, we, too, need to have righteous anger about social injustices. However, it needs to be a righteous anger that impels us to positive commitment and action towards correcting the social injustices that surround us.
It is much easier to pray, go to church, and follow the Ten Commandments than to get involved in trying to help and protect those who are poor and vulnerable. Sr. Mary McGlone, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, stated this very clearly in a recent reflection. She said, “We join ranks with those who rejected Jesus' message to the extent that we allow a focus on Christ's presence in our temples and tabernacles to dwarf our awareness of his real and much more disturbing presence outside the church walls. The host in the tabernacle is silent, but the prophetic poor tend to clamor for justice, dignity and even love”.
Jesus suffered consequences for His actions in today’s Gospel. It is generally accepted that this happened on Monday of Holy Week and was the last straw that led to His arrest and crucifixion. We need to be willing to sacrifice our comfort, and even security, to bring justice to our world.
Standing up to injustices is an integral part of bringing about the Kingdom of God in this world. I invite us to reflect on this Gospel challenge: am I doing my part to bring justice and equality to our world? Am I willing to sacrifice so that others can be safe? How can I do better? As we struggle to be better disciples, let us support each other in prayer. God bless.
Church sign of the week: The reason a dog has so many friends is because he wags his tail instead of his tongue.