Dwelling Among Us

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity | June 7, 2020

See today’s readings here. Video recordings of the Sunday evening Mass, where Fr. Brian regularly preaches, are available on Facebook at Delaware Koinonia. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found hereSalesian Sermons

So Friday night, I joined the protest along the Riverfront here in Wilmington for racial justice.

As I am sure you can imagine, I had a lot of anxiety prior to the gathering.

I worried about the potential for violence and what I would do if the protest took that turn.

I worried about the threat of tear gas and rubber bullets that had already been deployed against Wilmington protestors over the past week.

I worried about my reputation.  What would people think?  

But I also must admit.  I began having some delusions of grandeur.

I pictured myself as a hero.  Planting myself definitively on the right side of history.

Like the Civil Rights marches of old, I would stand up when it counted.  Walking arm and arm with my black brothers and sisters for the justice that they deserve. 

 But the actual event shattered all of my assumptions.

It remained peaceful and yet filled with a righteous anger that made me deeply uncomfortable.  I had nothing to fear, nor was anyone kissing the ground I chose to walk on.  

As young activists shared their poetry, celebrating their heritage and proclaiming their truth, I was acutely aware of the fact that I was the other in that moment.  That it was I who had to learn.

As white supremacy was denounced in our criminal justice system, in our education system, in our health care system, I thought of my own participation in these systems and how I had been well served by them

As the history of America’s relationship with her black citizens was recalled and lamented, I reflected on how that history is part of my story.

And in that moment, I thought of our first reading in a whole new light.

For in many ways, my own life parallels the experience of those Israelites in the desert.

For they too were frequently filled with unnecessary anxiety.

They feared for their lives, despite the promises that God would protect them.

They feared starvation, despite the promises that God would feed them.

They feared the other, despite the promises that God would be with them.

And they too also had delusions of grandeur.

That their relationship with God somehow ensured them an exalted status, regardless of their own actions as a community.  Regardless of their idolatry and injustice.

And yet, God was still there.  He continued to send them prophets, from Moses to Amos, from Isaiah to Jeremiah to proclaim a message that would guide them into a right relationship with God and one another.

These messages were not easy to hear.

And they were often filled with a righteous anger that made the Israelites deeply uncomfortable.

But our God did not abandon his people, stiff-necked as they may be.  No, he chose to dwell among them.  This Trinitarian God chose to enter into a relationship with them.  Preaching and proclaiming the truth until they nailed him to a cross.

And I am convinced that the promise made to Moses, the promise fulfilled in Christ Jesus reverberates down through the ages.

Our God continues to dwell among us.

And in so doing, he raises up new prophets among us.

Prophets who are still calling us to repentance.  To transformation,

My sisters and brothers, nothing is easy about this present moment.

We too may be filled with anxiety.

We too may have our delusions of grandeur.  That we are not prejudiced.  That we bear no responsibility for the broken systems that act in our name.  That everything will somehow magically go back to normal.  That if people stop talking about race somehow we will all become color blind.  

But instead of running from the prophetic voices of our time.  We must heed them.  We must let them shake us from our complacency.

We must abandon our own idols that we cling to so desperately.

The idols of money, wealth, privilege.  The idols of safety, security and comfort.  The idols of violence, war, power.  The idols of country, party, and pride.

We must root out the injustices at every level of our society.  We must uproot the prejudice that dwells in each of our hearts.  The subtle biases that have infected who we hire, who we live next to, who we invite to dinner, who we date, who we fear.  We must call out the broken systems that continue to weigh heaviest on the backs of people of color, of the poor clustered in city neighborhoods and abandoned among the cornfields of rural America.

And in so doing, we too may just encounter the Promised Land that all of us are called to enter.  

May God be Praised.

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