During these difficult days of the pandemic, economic crisis, demands for racial justice, environmental threats and divisive political hyperbole, we followers of Christ are put to severe tests.
We may move close to despair, become weary, tense, angry and be tempted to verbal or even physical violence within our families and social circles.
Today’s readings could not be more appropriate for dealing with this moment in history. God placed us here, now. God will provide what we need to endure and grow close to one another and to Him.
The first reading from Ezekiel defines the role of the prophet as the one who warns the house of Israel of pending disaster. As the People of God, we have a prophetic role in 2020. We are to call out hatred, divisions, lies and vindictive distortions that must cease or we face our own demise as a people.
Paul, in his letter to the Romans, offers the alternate way that applies just as much to us, now, as it did to the divided community of Christians to whom the letter was addressed nearly 2,000 years ago. “Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.”
In a world of revenge, falsehoods, power and demonizing, we are the prophetic counterforce. We respond with mercy, truth, collaboration and gentleness. Nothing is more countercultural at this moment in history.
We, as followers of Christ, are made for this time. Following the guidelines of today’s selection from Matthew’s Gospel, we confront evil, but the way we do it is with diplomacy and in the context of the community of love. Should the sinners refuse us, defy us, ignore us, they place themselves outside our circle of love and forgiveness, to their own peril.
We don’t ignore or minimize injustice, deceit, manipulation of truth. But the way we confront it is always as important as the of goal of conversion of hearts. This marks us as different in a world where the oppressed attempt to destroy the oppressor. Our way is modeled by Martin Luther King, Jr., St. Oscar Romero, Dorothy Day and Pope Francis who are themselves models of Jesus Christ.
As we confront evil together we are assured that, rooted in individual and communal prayer, Jesus is there: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Can any statement of Jesus be more reassuring during our moment in history?
Jim Wayne is a board member of the Passionist Solidarity Network (PSN), and author of The Unfinished Man. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky.