Resisting Evil ... Forging Hope

The liturgical readings for this Saturday seem tailor made for our present news cycle.

From the prophet Micah, we hear:

Woe to those who plan iniquity,and work out evil on their couches; In the morning light they accomplish it when it lies within their power. They covet fields, and seize them; houses, and they take them; They cheat an owner of his house, a man of his inheritance.
The Psalmist writes:
Why, O LORD, do you stand aloof? Why hide in times of distress? Proudly the wicked harass the afflicted,who are caught in the devices the wicked have contrived. 
For the wicked man glories in his greed, and the covetous blasphemes, sets the LORD at nought.The wicked man boasts, “He will not avenge it”;“There is no God,” sums up his thoughts. 
And then in Matthew's Gospel: 
The Pharisees went out and took counsel against Jesusto put him to death. When Jesus realized this, he withdrew from that place. Many people followed him, and he cured them all, but he warned them not to make him known.
Our present news cycle is filled with the consequences of evil planned on couches. Peoples are plotting against other peoples or closing their hearts and doors to compassion and our common humanity. There are good news stories to be sure as well, but those do not get the air time. Instead, we are submerged in woe.

Jesus could have been submerged in woe. People were literally planning his death. And what does he do? He withdraws from the place ... he was a man of deep prayer. Yet when people followed him, he did not ignore them or push them away, but ministered to them.

At our last CSJP Congregation Chapter, we wrote these words in our Chapter Act: "We live in a society marked strongly by the violence of war, violence to people through poverty and a sense of powerlessness and alienation, violence to earth, sea, and sky--violence that is truly cosmic."  Those words would also fit our present news cycle! As a community pursuing justice and seeking God's peace, how did we respond in our Chapter Act? "In response we commit ourselves to grow more deeply toward a nonviolent way of being and acting as peacemakers." Like Jesus, our call is to withdraw (resist) and to respond in hope.

A few months ago I read something by the great liberation theologian Gustavo GutiĆ©rrez regarding hope. I'd like to end this Saturday morning reflection with his words:
Hope is, in the first place, a gift from God. Accepting this gift opens followers of Jesus to the future and to trust … God’s gift is not an easy hope. But as fragile as it may seem, it is capable of planting roots in the world of social insignificance, in the world of the poor, and of breaking out and remaining creative and alive even in the midst of difficult situations. Nonetheless, hope is not waiting; rather it should lead us actively to resolve to forge reasons for hope.
No matter what the news, let us resolve to forge reasons for hope.

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