It is a well-known fact of human existence that we can be stubborn, hard-headed people—especially, when we feel uncomfortable.
But today’s Gospel isn’t just about discomfort, nor is it about wrongdoing or forgiveness. Instead, I invite us to consider the path of turning back around: the great, undisputed, U-Turn. U-Turns are often risky, sometimes frowned upon, because if you’re a driver, or have been in a car, they’re often done in the heat of the moment—you miss the GPS, make a wrong turn, and suddenly, you’re on some local road, embarrassed, because, more than likely, there are other drivers around watching you awkwardly make your way out.
If you’re like me, I will often frantically wave to other drivers, thanking them for their patience, and then sheepishly drive away after fixing my mistake.
U-Turns are hard. It is hard to admit our mistakes. It’s hard to take ownership of the ways we’ve done harm, intentionally or unintentionally. It’s difficult to name our privileges and complicities in unjust systems and policies. It’s not easy to admit when we’ve failed our neighbors, our siblings, our beloveds in our lives.
But today, we are invited to consider the power of the U-Turn, to see that taking accountability, and taking steps to admit our mistakes, to go through each point of that U-Turn, even if it takes forever to do—that is what can ultimately lead to righteousness.
We’ve all made plenty of U-Turns in our commitments to justice. We’ve all failed, failed, and failed again. But it is not about failure—it is about what we do when we make those mistakes, when we fail to live up to the commitments or principles of love, mercy, and justice that we’re each called to. It is about what we do next—will we stay on our paths, or will we take the time, to work through our mistakes, to own up to them, to take each point of that turn, and to be better advocates for the beloved community we’re called to build?
- How have you made U-turns in your own work or vocation? In what ways has that process changed or transformed you?
- What new lessons are you learning about yourself in the process, especially when it comes to pursuing justice?
Michael Libunao-Macalintal, M.Div. (he/him) is currently the liturgical minister of Marquand Chapel at Yale Divinity School. A theologian, minister, and preacher, Michael has spent his career helping form students to be prophets in their own communities and contexts. You can find more of his writing, sermons, and prayers on his substack, the delicate art of living.