“I am troubled now.” (John 12:27a): This phrase from Sunday’s selection from John is perhaps an allusion to the Gethsemane agony scene of the synoptic Gospels. As I try to focus on this week’s scripture reading I can’t get my mind off something else that is unrelated to the trouble that Jesus faced in the garden before his arrest. My troubles began last Sunday. I feel I have caused some unnecessary trouble for my Pastor and our parish. Perhaps I became too zealous and this spurred on by my unrighteous anger disturbed the peace of some who do not share my political opinion. And now I fear reprisals for my careless words.
I do not want what I said to separate me from a community that I have grown to love over the past three years. I allowed my misguided zeal for the OLPH orphanage to consume me. Like the Psalmist I could cry out, “Do not drive me from before your face, nor take from me your Holy Spirit.” (Psalm 51:13) In response, I hope to hear, as did Jeremiah, “I will forgive you your iniquity and no longer remember your sin. (Cf. Jeremiah 31:34)
Having said this I still owe you an explanation for the use of the offending word – shithole. As most people know I was not the first person to use this crude term in a public setting. President Donald Trump first used this word, during a bi-partisan meeting on immigration at the White House on January 11, 2018. It was spoken by the President in a way that I feel attacks the human dignity of the people, which the Parish of St. Andrew the Apostle works to support in our Global Outreach Ministries.
As most people are now aware, President Donald Trump has not denied that he asked, “…why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from Haiti and shithole countries in Africa rather than places like Norway.” The administration has previously demonstrated its negative attitude toward the less fortunate nations in their actions late last year by announcing the end to the temporary residence permit program, which allowed nearly 60,000 citizens from Haiti to live and work in the United States following the devastating 2010 earthquake. It was this same earthquake that necessitated the founding of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) Orphanage in Jeremie, Haiti.
Rather than continue the debate in this negative way, and thus perpetuate the anger engendered by the original comment, I have now committed a Lenten fast from politics from this point on. Rather than critiquing others with anger; I have decided to do the good better, by redoubling my support for the orphans and refugees from the troubled countries of this world regardless of race, religion, or national origin.
I need to keep in mind that “…Jesus was heard because of his reverence. (And) Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:7c-9) By doing this it was said that Jesus “will draw everyone to himself.” (Cf. John 12:32b) In this way, he created greater unity and justice for all. I do not for a moment think that I can become perfect, but I can aspire to perfection and with the grace of God advance in my journey toward my mission. My mission as formulated below is beyond my abilities, but with grace as a worthy aspiration.
I will experience the peace and joy I seek in this world when I;
Walk with humility in mindfulness,
Act for justice with compassion,
Love with tenderness through understanding.