Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 21, 2020
This past week, a photograph appeared ALL TOO BRIEFLY on an Internet news service. Even without any background story, the image carried a powerful message…a message that everyone in this very troubled world would benefit from. Seeing this picture, the first thing that might come to the mind of a Christian would quite likely be Luke 10:29: The parable of the Good Samaritan.
PATRICK HUTCHINSON and his friends were participating in a BLACK LIVES MATTER protest in London, England…triggered by the social unrest in the United States, but fueled further by the systemic racism that is also prevalent in Great Britain. PATRICK HUTCHINSON, a muscular, impressively built black man, was photographed carrying an injured white man over his shoulders and through a crowd of what appears to be angry demonstrators. Other pictures enhance the story, showing PATRICK HUTCHINSON encircled by his friends, trying to protect both him and the person slung over his shoulder from the mob that was trying to cause the already injured man further harm. (Google PATRICK HUTCHINSON…see the photo and maybe even read the article…form your own opinion.)
The story supporting the images would have us believe that the injured man was part of a counter-demonstration of white supremacists. Somehow, things turned violent, and the man being carted to safety by PATRICK HUTCHINSON suffered a serious injury. The angry mob was intent on causing the man further injury, when PATRICK HUTCHINSON lifted him up, then surrounded by his friends serving as human shields, carried the man to safety behind a police barricade.
The iconic picture…without any further explanation, speaks TRUTH…the same TRUTH that Jeremiah the Prophet proclaims in the opening lines of our First Reading. We live in a world where injustice breeds distrust, fear, and hatred. These dark feelings very often trigger violence and destruction. Terror on every side. That is the background to the passage from Jeremiah. And that is also the street scene away from which PATRICK HUTCHINSON carried an injured man. Terror on every side.
But, when one studies the look on PATRICK HUTCHINSON’S face, the second half of Jeremiah’s prayer is arguably illustrated in this dramatic photograph. The intense and determined look on the Good Samaritan’s face brings life to the second part of the prophet’s prayer. When confronted with evil, good people push through hostile crowds and endure persecution in order to do “the right thing.” In the case of Jeremiah, that would be to continue to proclaim the Word of God, regardless of opposition and without concern for his personal safety. On the streets of London, England last week, “the right thing” was to protect a human life…even the life of a person committed to a message of hate.
All three Readings on this 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time are powerful reminders of the undeniable truth that humankind has introduced into this world the darkest of feelings. Greed, envy, mistrust, fear, ignorance, injustice, bigotry, and discrimination…all of which breed hatred and violence…are in the very air we breathe.
Where is the Good News here?
Having laid out the challenges we face in trying to “do the right thing,” Jeremiah goes on to remind us that God remains in control. Both New Testament Readings carry that truth forward and expand upon it.
The final chapter in this story of fear, distrust, and hatred will end in a final victory for goodness. These dark feelings that very often trigger violence and destruction will give way to The Light of Christ; in other words, ultimately, The Light of Christ will dispel all darkness.
PATRICK HUTCHINSON’S heroism did not survive a second news day. Sadly, the story was pushed off the front page by more news of distrust, fear, and hatred, which triggered further violence and destruction. His name was displaced by the names of more victims, and persecutors, and will quickly be forgotten. His 15 minutes of fame have come and gone. But, the Holy Name of Jesus Christ will survive every effort to quash it. Christ and the Good News will not be forgotten but will prevail.
Empowered by the Holy Name, Christians are called to pick up the TRUTH, shouldering it, even as Jesus carried The Cross…even as PATRICK HUTCHISON pushed through an angry mob…and carried an injured man to safety. Disciples of Jesus Christ are called to serve as human shields…surrounding and protecting TRUTH from further insult and injury.