In today’s Gospel, we come face-to-face with Jerusalem Jesus. Jerusalem Jesus is the intense, steely Christ who threw the money changers out of the Temple; who fiercely confronted the Pharisees; who confounded those holding institutional authority who were testing him. He shockingly claimed that God will attend to the poor before the wealthy. Jerusalem Jesus was executed for being a threat to the economic, social-cultural, political order of his day. Luke 11:14-23 gives us a glimpse of a peaceful Jesus who is filled with righteous “holy frustration” at those refusing to hear him. Jerusalem Jesus is challenging and, if I’m completely honest, rather frightening.
Claiming to be a follower of Jesus Christ requires us to confront and reconcile “social sins” as he did; to transform structural sins like racism, sexism, poverty, oppression, and the global destruction of the earth from evil to grace. Such transformative action takes an unflinching commitment for the long haul. It also requires the ability to manage our own holy frustration when we encounter self-centered freedom of choice over the common good; defensiveness over uncomfortable truths; disinformation, lies, and conspiracy theories over scientific data and historic fact.
A critical tool for counteracting holy frustration is the skill of honestly listening for and to God’s voice with a quiet, open heart. It must be a heart that shakes off prejudices, selfishness, and intolerance. Let’s name that tool Holy Listening. It is what today’s first reading commands.
As we practice “holy listening” on our Lenten journey this year, God’s call will certainly invite us to follow the gentle, compassionate, healer Galilee Jesus who offered his life for us. Today, let us pray for the courage to heed God’s call to also walk in the footsteps of Jerusalem Jesus who, through us, miraculously transforms pressing social/structural sins into justice and grace.
- During this Lenten season, how are you called to “holy listening?”
- How might you better walk in the footsteps of Jerusalem Jesus?
Tom has over 43 years of experience doing social justice ministry organizing at the parish, diocesan, and national levels. He has authored two books, Parish Social Ministry: Strategies for Action (2001) and its sequel, On Earth As It Is In Heaven (2021). Currently, Tom is semi-retired and working as a parish social justice ministry trainer/consultant.