Beloved People of St. Martin’s,
“It can’t be done.”
How often in our society do we see that sentiment preventing needed change?
And if that’s not bad enough, it one small step from “It can’t be done” to “There’s nothing we can do,” or “There’s no point in trying.” Whether we are talking about acting to decrease gun violence to helping children stunted by poverty by expanding Medicaid, we hear these leaden pronouncements being dropped like boulders upon us, attempting to quash any idea that collectively, we indeed have power to change things. Pronouncements like these are meant to zap our will, drain our hope, and neutralize our agency.
And it’s funny—it’s often those who benefit and even profit from the status quo who are the loudest voices braying out smug assurances of our helplessness and hopelessness.
In our readings this Sunday, though, we hear differently. First, some of the opening verses from the prophet Jeremiah, in which Jeremiah responds to his calling by God with the protestation “I am only a boy.” It is then pointed out to Jeremiah that God will be Jeremiah’s refuge as he undertakes the dangerous job of a prophet: the speaking of truth to corrupt power, and the initiation of change within society for the benefit especially of the poor and the oppressed. Our selection from Psalm 71 reminds us that God is our refuge and our stronghold—not just so we can hide from the work of change, but so that we can dare to overcome resistance to change in the assurance that God is with us. Then in our gospel, Jesus heals a woman with a severe curvature of the spine, only to be accused (incorrectly) by the temple authorities of violating religious law by performing work on the Sabbath.
I hope you meditate on these readings (the links are included each week in the Beacon), and allow them to take root in your hearts. And then do the work of faith in action— to use your God-given agency to work for real change, for the protection of the outcast and the vulnerable. No matter what the naysayers may say.