We’re coming into the “homestretch”of this Lenten season. This coming Sunday, April 1st will be Palm Sunday, then it’s the Passion Week leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday. As we look at the life of Jesus before and during Passion Week, we see his unrelenting spirit of Divine justice. Jesus was reminiscent of Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Amos who cried for justice; and was the pattern for Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr 20 centuries later. Jesus spoke truth to power: the Kingdom of God as compared to Imperial Rome; man’s direct accessibility to God as compared to the religious elites of his day that tried to micromanage Jews’ lives.
If we look at Jesus’s ministry, we could reach back to the aforementioned Amos who preached:
But let judgment run down like waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. Amos 5:24 (21 Century KJV)
As we ponder Jesus during Lent, are we willing to take up the cross of justice and follow Jesus in that respect? To reach out to the marginalized? Feed the hungry? Clothe the naked? Visit the prisoner? Or, do we want to get over Lent and get to Easter Sunday and get our “shout on”?
Why I ask this? We’ve recently witnessed the murder of 17-year old African American Trayvon Martin who was gunned down (for no apparent reason) by a neighborhood watch guard (who was White), George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. Martin was unarmed at the time of his shooting. At this time of this posting, Zimmerman is still free.
We also saw the fatal beating of Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year old mother in El Cajon, CA just because she was Iraqi and Muslim. No one was yet caught in this crime.
We also saw the murder of Jonathan Sandler, a rabbi who taught at the Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse, France with his sons, 4-year-old Gabriel and 5-year-old Arieh; along with the school principal’s 7-year-old daughter, Miriam Monsonego. All because they were Jewish. The killer, Mohamed Merah was shot by French police after a 32-hour standoff.
And we’re still trying to make out the killing of 16 Afghan civilians by US Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales-the suspect of the killings. Bales is currently at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.
These victims would be those who Jesus would address today. When we study Jesus and how he reached society’s marginalized in his day (he himself was marginalized as well), it become clearer. The victims above were “marginalized” in American/Western society: African descent; Muslim; Iraqi; Jewish; and Afghan. And it’s not just these victims, but many more in our world who’ve suffered-or still suffer-injustice.
What are we in the household of faith doing? Are we taking this reflective time of Lent to see where God could use us in promoting justice for all in our world? Or are we just content with business as usual? Are we going to realize that Jesus died speaking truth to power (that’s why the power elites wanted him dead), and that he lives in us when we act justly and show mercy (re: Micah 6:8). I know I may sound sacrilegious, but without justice in the equation, our observation of Lent, and celebrations of Good Friday and Easter Sunday will all be in vain. In fact, God would say:
21“I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell the scent in your solemn assemblies. 22Though ye offer Me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. 23Take thou away from Me the noise of thy songs, for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. (Amos 5: 21-23)
In fact, if we were to ask God what He/She would require, God would say, “Go to Trayvon and learn of him. Go to Toulouse and visit the families of the deceased. Go to Shaima and learn of her. Go to Afghanistan and walk with the oppressed civilians and stressed soldiers.” That what God would require. “Stop moping around with your ‘stations of the cross’, and long-winded ‘seven last words’. Stop getting off on ‘sunrise services’ that don’t make you any holier, and quite prancing around in Easter finery; observing a Pagan holiday co-opted by the Roman Church and has no bearing on Me! Get off your Easter asses and go about doing justice and mercy!”
That, I believe, is what God would want us to reflect on for Lent and beyond. Because the above victims of the world are still looking to Christians to see what we’re going to do.
And so is God.
Rest in Peace to those above. See you when we get there.