Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10
1 Cor 12:12-30
Lk 1:1-4, 4:14-21
Paul begins the second reading for this Sunday with words that are critical for the society we live in today. “Brothers and sisters: As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” We are all one body! We are all baptized into one body – the body of Christ. In Christ there is no division, no partiality, no exclusion. We are one with everyone else!
All we have to do is read a newspaper or turn on the news to know that our country is divided in beliefs and treatment of people considered different from us. By reason of our baptism we are called to reverence every person. Reverence for life is a matter of attitude and attitudes can be developed or changed. Reverence is a critical belief for our time in history when life is frequently treated with lack of respect, seen as an object to be used, or is dispensable if inconvenient. If Christians are not committed to respecting and advocating for the lives of all people our future is bleak because the lives of the poor, the “outsider” matter. The lives of immigrants matter. The lives of the elderly and sick and dying matter. The lives of the unborn matter. The lives of people of all races matter.
We are our brothers and sisters’ keepers. We have a responsibility to be on the side of all disenfranchised people. Talking about the sacredness of human life is not enough. We must act. We must be advocates for all those who are excluded in any way. We must be Jesus and his love, care and healing in our world. This is not easy because standing for the disenfranchised, the excluded can cause divisions in families. It can identify you as a “do gooder” who just doesn’t understand what it means to be an American. It can cause backlash from those who think differently. Nonsense!
What can you do to be a committed follower of the Christ, someone who believes in the importance of inclusivity and respect for all people? Follow your conscience based on scripture, church teaching, truth and facts. Volunteer at or donate to an agency that helps immigrants, the homeless or any people who are excluded in any way. Refuse to listen to or contribute to negative words or comments about anyone. Educate yourself on the realities the excluded or disenfranchised have to face on a daily basis. Donate household items, food, clothing, and money to immigrants relocating in your area. The list is endless, but the important thing is to act on behalf of those in need regardless of their race, country of origin, financial status or anything else that causes them to be excluded. We are all one body!
On what do you base your beliefs about people whose life experience is different from yours?
What is one specific thing you can do now to help anyone who is excluded or disrespected?