The Prophet's Bus
June 22, 2012The prophetic voice is often found outside the church. Witness Jesus. His radical call to justice and unity was a threat to the religious authority of his day. Status quo faith is too comfortable. Status quo faith leads to easy answers and blind eyes. And the prophet is squeezed to the sidelines.... or to the evening news. This week on prime time television, Sister Simone Campbell spoke a prophetic word outside her Vatican party line, to the chagrin of the authorities. She spoke a truth that the world and the church are too complacent and mis-guided to hear. This is Sister Simone's quote: "The truth is, we have to speak up for the people who are suffering in our society. That's our mission. That's our goal. That's what Jesus would do. That's the gospel." The Daughters of Charity and Sisters of Mercy who travel with Sister Simone, Executive Director of Network, a social justice ministry, stand in a long line of justice workers in the Catholic Church. What interested me was the telling of the Vatican response to the justice work being done. The Nuns were chastised for focusing on justice rather than speaking the great doctrinal moral outrage against abortion and same sex marriage. Really? Who is out of touch here? As an observer, it seems to me that a lot of our systems are majoring in minors. This is some Nero-ian posture that thinks if we get our theology or our polity or our law to the fore, all will be well, at least for us. So we are blinded and sated in our control of systems that benefit and protect the status quo. That is a kudzoo mindset. All is well as long as we have the power and control to keep the kudzoo back, or protect the border from the "barbarians," whoever they might be this time. And Rome burns. Under debt, under reckless leadership, under crushing self-interest. In a group of clergy friends last week there was discussion about what it means to be a new creation where everything old has passed away. I believe the transformed life shows forth in ways of compassion, care, justice measured not in numbers and butts in the pews, but in acts of kindness and mercy at every level of life. Sister Simone is marking the way, leading conversation into the path of justice, the path of peace. The Nuns on the Bus are in a prophetic mission to speak truth and invite change. I want a seat on that bus. I am too much a participant in the status quo and too little a prophet. So the prayer is that fear be taken away, and a token be offered for a ride that could change the world. Amen.