July 12, 2016 by Ron Madson
” Even though Jesus loved everyone…he went out of his way to intentionally help specific groups of people — the alienated, mistreated, and those facing injustice. ”—-Stephen Mattson
I don’t do Christmas cards. I don’t mind receiving them and in fact appreciate the gesture. I saw a Christmas card a couple years ago and said out loud –“Now if I were ever to send out a Christmas card it would be that one!”
Nothing says Jesus and his message more than a dead sparrow—and for once I am not being satirical: “Are not two sparrow sold for a farthling? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your father.” (Matthew 10:29).
Why did Jesus chose not to speak of the beauty and power of the eagle and the other magnificent birds of prey, but instead only mentions the fallen, near worthless, sparrow?
Jesus’ ministry was focused on the very “least”—“verily I say unto you, inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me
And the corollary being “inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” (Matthew 25:45)
Jesus gave voice for those who were ethnically and racially profiled (Samaritans), those who were second class citizens (women), those considered immoral and unclean (harlots, sinners and publicans), those who were on the margins of society (lepers) the weak, the poor and the ill both spiritually and temporally.
He did not invite us to consider the plight of the ruling class (Sanhedrin); nor the privileged (Pharisees and Sadducees) nor the rich and successful except to invite them to place all their focus, resources and energies on uplifting the weakest and most discriminated against in their community.
So if Jesus were here today what type of persons would he give voice to?
The words and example of Jesus and the light of Christ in our hearts lead me to believe that He is inviting us who wish to take upon ourselves his name to tell those in power and who enjoy privilege that we need not reflexively make sure it is “about us” –because it is nearly always about us—but rather we need to see, feel and know the pain of those most marginalized such as—
—Those on food stamps and in poverty matter who need no more demeaning judgment from us;
—The lives of struggling single moms matter
—The lives of those who are gay, lesbian and transsexual matter and the life of every young person who is same sex attracted matters
—The lives of immigrants matter
—-the lives of our enemies matter
—and black lives matter
If we can see, hear and feel the suffering of those who are considered the “least” among us without reflexively needing to make sure it is always about US— as in needing to respond with “all lives matter” —then we are emulating Jesus and his approach to humanity. But if we cannot have empathy for their suffering then we miss the whole point of Jesus’ message and like the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and the elite of Israel we demonstrate that “though seeing, they (we) do not see; though hearing, they (we) do not hear or understand” (Matthew 13:13).
And if our first impulse is to seek to justify in our mind why those who do not enjoy our privileges deserve or bring upon themselves their suffering then how are we any different than the “chief priest” and Elders of Israel—men of privilege– who perfected the art of judgment? Yes, Jesus did mention the privileged class (read all of Matthew 23) but only to speak to them in their language of judgment:
“I say, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31).
So today joining the chorus of saying “Black Lives Matter” and being willing to actually walk with those considered the despised/sinners/least deserving in one’s community and faith tradition is to come to know that the words to the song “Today I walked where Jesus walked” is not about some expensive tour of the Holy Lands with other privileged believers, but rather it is to see the world from the bottom up—-to see it through the eyes of the outcast, the poor, the rejected and those suffering the injustice of this world.