Greetings, SBT Readers!
A current opinion piece in The Guardian calls on readers to remember that Canada was built on genocide; it explains how, in light of the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves of indigenous children at residential schools, this year's celebration of Canada Day, July 1st, became a day of mourning and reflection. Some communities scaled back their celebrations while others cancelled them altogether. The grim discovery exposes the cruel legacy of colonialism-- the collusion of church and state to eradicate indigenous traditions, beliefs, and way of life.
Today, July 4th, marks America's 245th birthday -- the date Congress approved the final text of the Declaration of Independence. In claiming independence, America rejected British hegemony and the despotic rule of King George III; it also embraced the following principles:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness.”
Sadly, as a nation we have yet to face our own "Shadow." As in Canada, the First People have been displaced, exploited, and marginalized. Stripped of their heritage, their sacred lands, their way of life, they struggle with lack of access to quality housing, education, healthcare, job opportunities, as well as with the fallout -- alcoholism, unemployment, domestic violence and a rising suicide rate (Since 1999, 139% higher for Native American women and 70% higher for native American men).
The Shadow, of course, extends to the building of our national economy on the backs of African slaves -- on their blood, sweat and tears. Post-slavery, the Shadow also includes systemic racism at every level of American life. While all "men" are indeed equal, it seems that "some are more equal that others."
As we gather for parades, barbeques and fireworks, we need to remember the gap between the noble principles of the Declaration of Independence and where America is today. We are separated by "isms" and phobias which threaten to destroy the very fabric of society. Our greatness as a nation depends upon unity, not division; upon kindness, not callous indifference; upon justice, not self-serving entitlement. May flags fly high but may we also remember our pledge to be "one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Jesus left there and came to his home town, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
They said, “Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has he been given? What mighty miracles is he performing? Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own relatives and in his own house.”
MK 6: 1-6
"Where did this man get all this?" As they listened to the young man standing before them, his neighbors, friends and the elders of the community were perplexed. Some had watched him grow up; others had grown up with him or else knew his family. They knew him to be a carpenter by profession, and could identify where he lived and to whom he was related. Now they had to reconcile what they knew of Jesus' past with what they were seeing and hearing. The "information gap," however, was too much for them: How could a carpenter teach with authority and perform healing miracles? Instead of celebrating their native son, instead of praising God for his spiritual gifts, they "took offense" -- in other words, they were scandalized. They closed their hearts to Jesus' presence and to his message; at that moment, he became the "outsider," a threat to the status quo, an enemy of the people...
The call to be a prophet is the call to see "what is," to listen to the Spirit and to speak Truth; it is not the mission of the few but the birthright of every human being, religious or not. It involves stepping outside our comfort zones, seeing with clarity, speaking with urgency and demanding right action. It means putting aside vested interests, even our security, for the sake of the message entrusted to us. When Joshua informs Moses that Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp, he responds, "Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets!" (Num 11:29). Sadly, not only do we prefer oblivion to seeing and hearing anything disturbing, but we also tend to reject those who dare to speak up, often ridiculing them, punishing them, silencing them... Prophets provide ample warning about social injustices and their inevitable consequences; it is to everyone's peril that we ignore them.