The men who were holding Jesus in custody taunted him while they beat him. They blindfolded him and asked him repeatedly, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” Insulting him, they said many other horrible things against him.” Luke 22: 63 – 65 (CEB)
In our Social Principles “we affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God.” (The 2016 UM Book of Discipline, page 16)
While these words are under the section on human sexuality and most often quoted in that context, the implication is clear, ALL persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God.
In our Cabinet/RIOM pilgrimage to the border in February, we spent a chilly, windy morning meeting with three border patrol agents in an open shelter in a park near the Rio Grande River. Their presentation was polished and professional. Our response was regardful and respectful. As our time together came to a close many, if not most, of us took time to greet the three agents personally and thank them for their presentation.
However, one thing was abundantly clear to all of us.
The border patrol agents never referred to the asylum seekers as persons, people, or human beings. They constantly used the word “bodies.” Illegal bodies. Inconvenient bodies.
Talk about social distancing.
As I have been reading the Passion narratives during Lent, it strikes me that Jesus was likely regarded by the powers of his time as just another inconvenient and illegal body. “The soldiers took Jesus prisoner. Carrying his cross by himself, Jesus went out to a place called Skull Place (in Aramaic, Golgotha.) That’s where they crucified him…(John 19: 16b-18a)
Oscar Romero was also deemed to be an inconvenient body. On the evening of March 24, 1980, he was assassinated while celebrating Mass at a small chapel at Hospital de la Divina Providencia.
During his Eucharistic prayer, there would have been words commemorating Jesus Christ and his redeeming work, especially his sacrifice for all of humankind through his crucifixion.
“This is the body of Christ, broken for you.”
In these powerful words, we are reminded that God’s realm is not about body counts. Rather in God’s realm, every body counts and ALL persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God.
A Prayer adapted from St Oscar Romero:
May we never preach violence,
except the violence of love,
which left you nailed to a cross,
the violence that we must each to to ourselves
to overcome our selfishness
and such cruel inequalities among us.
The violence we must preach is not the violence of the sword,
the violence of hatred.
It is the violence of love,
of brotherhood and sisterhood,
the violence that wills to beat weapons
into sickles for work. Amen,
From the NC Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Immigration Alliance
To become aware this week:
Discover ministries already in place and find churches/organizations already serving the Hispanic community.
To cultivate growth this week:
Collaborate with a local immigrant organization to host a community event that offers learning, exposure, and growth in cultural competencies.
To advocate this week:
Mobilize neighboring congregations to respond to the harsh actions seen in our communities.
Ray Broadwell is the district superintendent of the Fairway District.