Sunday, February 21, 2016

Standing Up for What's Right

In 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, blacks sitting anywhere in a bus were expected to give up their seat to a white person.

Rosa Parks rode home after a very hard day's work. Six white people got on the bus.  The driver called to Rosa: “You! You get up.” She refused.  She was arrested.

The boycott of the buses began. Rosa lost her job and was threatened, but she stood her ground. She noted that she had always been a timid person, but “my entire life demanded of me that I be courageous” to stand for what was right.  That single moment transformed her and gave rise to the Civil Rights Movement of the '60s that forced a nation to confront racial inequality.

Each of us possesses the Spirit of God by virtue of the life-giving waters of baptism and that Spirit empowers us to become “transformational agents of change for the better.”

Raphael's Transfiguration
Jesus Christ challenges all of us, as His fellow co-workers, to become transformational agents. We are called to do our best to transform unfairness and prejudice into fairness; hate into peace; indifference into compassion; sorrow into joy; despair into hope; self-centeredness into other-centeredness/God-centeredness; and loneliness into family or community.  One way is doing all the good we can, in all the ways we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, for all the people we can, as long as ever we can.

God calls us to be people of faith, in spite of challenges.  Yes, stand firm in your faith. We are citizens of heaven.  Live a life worthy of our calling now.

In the Gospel according to Luke, the disciples experienced the transfiguration and saw the unique and awesome presence of God in Jesus of Nazareth. As described, the face of Jesus became as dazzling as the sun, his clothes as “white as light,” an allusion to the white cloth given us at baptism. The disciples saw a vision of the “glorious” Jesus beyond flesh and blood. They saw the face of God in their midst, the Father’s beloved Son.

But who is this Jesus, the face of God among us?  He was a real person like ourselves. He experienced fatigue, hunger, joy, friendship, disappointment and loneliness. But he was more than a man. He had a unique relationship to the God of ancient Israel; he was in fact one with God. And through his own life, death and resurrection, he opened up to us the “doors” of eternal life with God.

What did Jesus teach?  That the kingdom of God was breaking into our midst.  That you and I can share in this by living a life of discipleship: a life of regular prayer; of fasting or “giving up” attitudes and behaviors that can fracture our relationship with God and one another; and a life of almsgiving or generous volunteer service. And thirdly, he taught that God is our Father. This is a tremendous reality of faith: the God of this magnificent universe lives and dwells within us.

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