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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: Matthew 12:1-21

I was talking with a friend recently about the way things have unfolded in the state of Arizona following the passage of SB 1070. SB 1070 is the bill that has been labeled by some as the anti-immigration bill. My friend and I were specifically talking about the call that some have felt to travel to Arizona, publically protest the bill, and get arrested.

“I admire the conviction these folks have that motivates them to spend hundreds of dollars to travel to Arizona and put themselves in the position of getting arrested,” my friend began. “There is one thing that troubles me about this.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“I’m not sure how their actions are helping resolve the issues involved in this important debate.”

We then spent some time talking about what my friend meant by that observation. My friend expressed her concern that the high profile public demonstrations might further polarize the issue and make it less likely that individuals from across the political spectrum would be willing to sit down and talk. She also asked an uncomfortable question: “How many of the folks who have traveled to participate in the protests go home and actually live in solidarity with undocumented folks in their own communities?”

My friend’s first point about the role one’s actions play in the bigger picture stayed with me as I read today’s passage from Matthew – for in that passage we hear Jesus quote the prophet Isaiah in talking about the ways in which Jesus was called to be.

“Look well at my handpicked servant; I love him so much, take such delight in him. I’ve placed my Spirit on him; he’ll decree justice to the nations,” the passage begins. “But he won’t yell,” Isaiah noted, “won’t raise his voice; there’ll be no commotion in the streets. He won’t walk over anyone’s feelings, won’t push you into a corner. Before you know it, his justice will triumph, the mere sound of his name will signal hope, even among far-off unbelievers.”

As persons who live in a world full of injustice at seemingly every turn, I would encourage you to carry with you Jesus’ powerful words. While some might misinterpret those words as a call to passively accept the status quo, they are so much more (as the lives of individuals like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. – individuals who embraced the spirit of that vision - reminded us). Those words are the recipe for transforming the world in a manner that recognizes both the sacred value of every person (even those with whom we disagree) and the integrity of relationship between all of God’s children.

Til next time …

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