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Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Change We Make | Third Sunday in Lent

"It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple those who were selling cattle, sheep, and doves, as well as those involved in exchanging currency sitting there. He made a whip from ropes and chased them all out of the temple, including the cattle and the sheep. He scattered the coins and overturned the tables of those who exchanged currency. He said to the dove sellers, 'Get these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a place of business.'"John 2:13‭-‬16 CEB

If ever anyone wondered what they would have done during the Civil Rights Era in the United States, they should have their answer by now.

There were a lot of protests during the presidency of Donald Trump. Early in his term one of my extended relatives, a conservative, posted on Facebook in response to a video of one of the protests, "Don't these people have jobs?" Her derision was clear, and clearly driven by her political perspective. Never mind that the man was a monster, or that people often have vacation days that they can use. The matter of justice involved was invisible and irrelevant to her. It's as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said in 1968:

“One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change."

Everything he said about the 1960s is true of the 2020s. There are people in the United States and the world at large who are adamant about not only maintaining the status quo, but also making life worse for others and better for themselves. Having, at this point, a Democratic president does not mean that we can go back to sleep. Although the global pandemic has restricted our ability to march, we still have a moral obligation to agitate by every means available for a better world. 

Perhaps, though, we doubt ourselves. Not collectively, but individually. I often wonder how much difference my small efforts make in the world. Dorothy Day answered that by telling us, "Don't worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth." We know that cops murdering black people is evil. It should be evident that lgbtq+ folks should not be discriminated against in society.  We are witnesses to the dramatic harm being done to the natural world because of our indifference and unwillingness to change our ways. We hear the women speaking of their pain and fury in being denigrated and exploited. All these injustices and more are the truth that the status quo lies to us about. 

People had been doing business in the temple square for years. They likely would have picked it back up again right after Jesus left. That didn't change, and yet this action attributed to him has been spoken of for centuries. It might look like we're trying to empty a river with a teaspoon, and perhaps we are. Yet, if enough people see our example, perhaps a canal can be dug to water the thirsty land, and bring flourishing to everywhere it reaches.