I begin with a note of gratitude and appreciation for the inspiration and words shared with me for the writing of this homily from my good friend, Fr. Ron Rolhieser
Father Rolheiser is serving as President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio Texas. He can be contacted through his web site, www.ronrolheiser.com.
They rememberd the words of Scripture…”Zeal for your house consumes me!” Psalm 69.9
I don’t think I am going out on a very thin limb….infact, I know, beyond a doubt that I am stating the very obvious…
We live in a world of deep divisions.
Everywhere there is polarization, people bitterly divided by ideology, politics, economic theory, moral beliefs, and theological positions.
Often we tend to over simplfy and we call each other, left or right, repulican or democrat, liberal or conservative or any number of other things…some that are not so kind, or even down right sinful.
For some reason or for a number of reasons…we have lost the art of public discourse….and even that I wonder if it’s an art that we ever really possesed…we fight, cat call, blaspheme, disparage, and destroy each other with our words and sometimes with our actions.
More and more it seems we cannot discuss politics, religion or values even within our own families.
Instead we most often end up discussing those sensitive subjects within the ideological circles of like minded individuals and end up feeding each other our own biases and indignations.
Somehow and for some reason we have lost the willingness to engage in dialoge that challenges us to listen to
and listen with one another.
That seems to happen to societies until we reach a breaking point….and the divisions and lack of dialogue reach a crescendo that often ends in violence.
Like the clearing of the Temple….
or the tragedies of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl.
Scripture has a word for this crisis of willingness to dialogue….
Scripture calls it “enmity”—most often translated into English as “hatred”.
My friends, I believe we are living in the midst of a crisis of hatred and we need nothing short of a religious and public conversion!
I don’t think this crescendo or this crisis could happen at a better time, than during this grace filled season of Lent!
Because this is a time for solid, real, honest, reflection and contemplation.
Some groups and some individuals are trying….but I am afraid for the most part we are failing.
Like Jesus, we are trying to clear the temple of dispair, but also like Jesus we realize that clearing the temple will take a lot more than just kicking out money changers, and sellers,
We need to clean our house and allow the world to clean theirs as well.
Which can only be accomplished through the Cross….
What Jesus did in his passion and death was he transformed bitterness and division,
rather than retransmitting that same bitterness and division.
He literally spoke the truth, but he spoke it in and with love, rather than the harshness of whips, or words or guns.
The question becomes, how do we become instruments of change for our world?
How do we model and become messengers willing to listen
Open to understanding,
And be willing to be and become transforming, loving agents of conversion and conversation?
What did Jesus do?
He took the hatred and retuned love.
He felt the blows of the whips, and he said….Father forgive them.
He said to the insults hurrled at him: It is you who say that I am.
That is I believe our challenge as well…..to absorb the hatred, division, anger, hurt, and pain and to offer back, love, unity, options, possibilities, and truth.
When is the last time we prayed for someone with whom we blatantly and adamently disagreed?
In recovery from addiction we have a practice of working on our resentments…it is simple…but it works.
When a resentment rears its head in our lives, we begin first with prayer…for two solid weeks we pray for the person, place or thing that has triggered the resentment.
If we can’t even reach that, we pray for two weeks for the desire to pray for the person, place or thing that has triggered the resentment.
Then we start again, and we continue this repetion, over and over, until amazingly, every time, the resentment is transformed, but the power of prayer and our willingness to be transformed by God’s love for us and for the other.
It was one of the founding principles of our community when we started 10 years ago….the refusal to speak in anger and the commitment to speak ONLY in love. I am proud to say we have lived that commitment well.
I too have been impressed with many of the youth leaders of Parkland, and others, they are calling for a conversion, and many are crying with the pain and asking how and why….others are speaking truth to the power….many are absorbing inordinate ridicule and simply returning love, through options for a different future.
On Saturday March 24th, many of the youth of our state and other local leaders will be marching here in St. Paul, to speak truth to power, much like Jesus did in the Gospel today.
And like Jesus, Rev. Corein, Rev. Colleen & I plan to join with them, to show our solidarity with their pain and to model the transformation called for by the Gospel. To learn, to listen, and to share the immensity of Gods loving embrace. Maybe you would be willing to join with us…to help the process of conversion and conversation about a future that looks different than the present. A future that holds the possibility of being free from violence, be it language, or guns.
If a different future was not possible, I do not believe Jesus would have risked clearing the Temple.
If a different future was not possilbe, the Incarnation would have been a waste of God’s energy.
If a different future was not possible, the Cross would be void of meaning and hope.
I wonder …
I wonder, if we are willing to risk transforming our world for our future and the future of our children as well?
I wonder…maybe you do to?