(16 March 2014)
by Rev. Elder Hector Gutierrez
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
Romans 5:15-17 (New International Version)
It is amazing how much we need to hear, as well as preach again and again, these words about justification to counter the rhetoric that we hear about discrimination, segregation, condemnation, and judgment toward many of our siblings, for various reasons, in different corners of this world. I think all of us are still suffering in our hearts because of the impact in Uganda from the terrible decision made by President Museveni after he decided to sign into law the bill criminalizing our LGBT siblings in that country.
How easy it can be to misunderstand and misread the Sacred Texts to condemn and to persecute people in the name of god. I intentionally do not capitalize the letter “g” in this case because I believe this decision was not made in the name or spirit of GOD. Too often, we point at who is not “following the normality” that is imposed for good conscience, even when our own thinking and actions are so far away from the real message of the God who is more human and humane than we are willing to be in many situations.
MCC, we have an immense task to fulfill. We must share the good news of “God´s abundant provision of grace.” We must live out the truth that all human beings are equals. We cannot keep silent toward the injustices that are seeking to prevail in so many places and countries. MCC, and each of us as members of MCC, have been called to offer to this world the authentic face of God through our lives and justice work. John’s gospel is clear as it reminds us, “For God so loved the world Grace came, that whoever believes shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send Jesus into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world.” (John 3:16-17)
I want to bring to this reflection the thoughts of Martin Buber [i], “Some would deny any legitimate use of the word God because it has been misused so much. Certainly it is the most burdened of all human words. Precisely for that reason it is the most imperishable and unavoidable. And how much weight has all erroneous talk about God’s nature and works (although there never has been nor can be any such talk that is not erroneous) compared with the one truth that all [people] who have addressed God really meant [God]? For whoever pronounces the word God and really means Thou, addresses, no matter what [their] delusion, the true Thou of [their] life that cannot be restricted by any other and to whom [they stand] in a relationship that includes all others.” (Martin Buber; I and Thou, Scribner Classics, 1986, NY; inclusified)
This Lenten season, more than ever, we must provide a different approach. Let us make a profound commitment to seek recourse and to fight for the rights of all humanity, to remain vigilant that we are called to be justice for all our siblings, no matter what.
[i] Martin Buber (8 February 1878 – 13 June 1965) was a Jewish Scholar, theologian and philosopher, and he is considered one of the twentieth century’s most influential thinkers. He believed the deepest reality of human life lies in the relationship between one being and another.