View From the Mount

I am not a theologian, schooled in scripture, just someone who wants to look at situations from sitting in the presence of God and reading scripture. Last Sunday’s gospel was Matthew 10:37-42. In it, Jesus says to the disciples: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. . .”

These words sound so harsh. What if Mary, Jesus’s mother, and Joseph, his father, were listening to them? How would they understand this? Perhaps Jesus may have explained it to them in this way:

“The two of you have loved me with all your hearts, and you have taught me about my Father in heaven and have taught me to love. There are other people who do love like this, but they have not felt a love by us for them. Thus, we must make them a priority — even more important than father or mother, brother or sister, or son or daughter — because they are hurting. The Father has sent me to heal the hurting, to reach out to them. Sometimes this may be an individual or a group of individuals. Sometimes it involves the individual, group or structures that target other groups and individuals. Such was the case when I said to the Pharisees, ‘They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s’ shoulders. . .’ (Matt.23:4). Now I am in a society where I must do the extra step of reaching out beyond father or mother or any who are already advantaged. I must reach out to those hurting. Let me put it this way. We are in a society where there is a group of people who because of the color of their skin are targeted in a different way than people whose skin is white.”

Targeted. What does this mean? Webster’s dictionary gives several definitions: “a mark to be shot at” or “an object of ridicule or criticism.” “Targeted” can also be used positively as in a young man with certain values being targeted for priesthood, or Patrick Mahomes being targeted by the Chiefs as a college player and being drafted, going on to win a Super Bowl. I believe in our society today people of a different color are targeted. This is done in both unconscious and conscious decisions and actions by those of us who are white. We often do not mean to do this, but evidence has proved that this is true. An example would be police responding to one group of people differently and consistently over time. I cannot help wondering if another piece of evidence is the absence of certain groups in certain institutions, such as so few bishops that are black in the U.S., or the fact that there is only one sister who is black in my community. What is it we do that limits and says to people who are different to stay away? Our love must be more for them.

We have to seriously look at the words in Sunday’s Gospel. So when I hear “Black lives matter,” I hear that they haven’t mattered as much as white lives in a society run by white lives. Therefore, we must love them more and reach out more than just to say “all lives matter.” It is calling us to move beyond just loving those who think like us or look like us. For me God simply has not created two heavens. We all are the children of God, who has called us, with each other, to that heaven. All of us are God’s children.

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