Thoughts for your consideration
Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day. It is a good time to connect the scriptures to the challenge of justice in our nation, especially racial justice.
In the first reading, God keeps calling until Samuel hears.
Samuel finally begins to hear God with the guidance and help of Eli.
It takes a while. It takes awhile to discern. It takes a while to listen.
As is true in every age, God keeps calling to us again and again.
Sometimes it takes us a while to hear God’s word and accept the call.
God calls to us in the needs of the poor, in the distorted values in our economic systems, in the experience of immigrants and refugees, in the violence inflicted on people caught up in war, in the injustices embedded our political systems, in the abuse of our environment, in the racial divides in our nation, and in countless experiences each day. Sometimes it takes us quite a few times before we hear the call. We need guidance and help to see and hear. We need community to begin to respond to the call.
In the United States, it has been taking us a very long time to understand and to begin to heal the racial divides in our country. The history of injustice goes back hundreds of years to reality of slavery and then “Jim Crow” laws, and the “new Jim Crow” of the last few decades. Racial injustice has been brought to our attention in various recent events and the recent deaths of so many people: Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, John Crawford Ill, Michael Brown, Jr., Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and then the two police officers in New York. In all of these events we hear a call today, to reflect, to learn, to understand, and to change and recreate.
The disciples in the gospel are looking for something.
John the Baptist points to Jesus.
The disciples begin to stay with Jesus and listen to the call.
With the help and vision of Jesus they begin to see everything anew.
The vision of Jesus is one of inclusivity and welcome and justice.
Today we too are looking for something.
We are looking for values that we can live by, for help with the economic and political problems of the day, for a healing of the racial divide in our nation, for an end to war and conflict, for justice and peace, for a government that will work well and promote the common good. We need guidance and help to find what we seek. We need to help one another and we need God’s spirit to see the truth and act together.
The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Bishop of Belleville, Illinois, recently wrote a pastoral reflection on race called The Racial Divide in the United States: A Reflection for the World Day of Peace 2015.
It gives us an example of someone trying to listen to the events of today and of someone trying to discern the call of God for justice in our society.