MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on prejudice. Are we prejudiced? What does racism have to do with our view of Jesus today? Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for the 2rd Sunday of Advent. Please read Matthew 11:2-12. #GreatPreaching #Prayer #Sermons #Homilyhelper #SecondComing #JohntheBaptist #RacistAutoMechanic #ViewOfJesus #Messiah #Ready
For MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 12/15/2013 The 3rd Sunday of Advent.
Please pause this audio and read Matthew 11:2-12.
You are prejudiced.
Now, don’t get lost in my illustration. Hear me out.
I went to the automotive repair shop. While waiting for my car to get the oil changed an African American young man entered the shop to ask if there were any jobs open. The three white gentlemen behind the counter said no. Just after the African American man left the TV played a series of stories about killings across the United States. One of the men behind the counter said, “Ya’ know what those killings have in common? The killers were black.” Stunned, I said, “That had nothing to do with it.” He replied, “I don’t know…”
The following Monday, I called the shop because the person making the comment was the owner’s son. In the conversation with the owner, he said, “That couldn’t be possible because my son has friends who are black.” Knowing someone who is of another race and doing something with someone of another race, doesn’t make someone free of prejudice. The son of the auto-repair shop owner, a repair shop at which I no longer take my business, probably doesn’t even know that he is making prejudiced statements.
You may not even know it, but you are prejudiced if you think anything like “oh, no wonder they did that, they came from a BLACK neighborhood.” You are a racist if anything like this came out of your mouth, “Well, she is an HISPANIC.” Or, you are a racist if you say, “Aren’t all those ‘towel heads’ terrorists?” If you judge someone’s action by a predetermined set of criteria based upon the color of their skin, you are a racist.
Prejudice is judging something/anything based upon a predetermined set of criteria. More easily put, prejudice is a lens of things you just “know” before something happens which helps you understand it according to what you have always known. So, if you think that all people of a certain color drive poorly, then when someone of that color does something stupid behind the wheel, you chalk it up to the fact that someone “just like those people” would do such a thing.
The thing about being a racist or being prejudice in general, is that you probably do not know it. Another thing about being prejudice is that when someone points it out, you are usually very angry about being called out for it.
I could tell when I tried one more time to give the auto-repair place a chance that he was angry with me for pointing out his prejudice. No one wants to think that they are so calloused that they would judge someone by the color of their skin. Yet, if we were honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that we are prejudiced about many things and people.
In our passage today, we have people who are supposed to be the people who can tell us about God. They are from the chosen people. They are Jews. They have the Torah. They have the history of being led through the Red Sea, given a land flowing with milk and honey, burning bushes, lightning striking, return from exile, being saved from genocide by Esther, and countless other mighty acts of God which saved their people. They are the ones who are supposed to know. They are supposed to know when God is active in their lives.
When John the Baptist appears before them, they, understandably, have no clue what to do with this crazy cat from the wilderness with the weird clothing and strange eating habits. Yet, then Jesus comes on the scene and even John the Baptist doesn’t know what to do with him. I would imagine with some degree of hope, John sends his disciples from his prison cell as he awaits punishment to ask, “Are you the one?” “Are you the Messiah?” “Are you the one to deliver us from our sins?” “Are you the one who will deliver the people of God?”
Jesus’ answer is simple: here is what I did. He says, “The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have good news preached to them.” Then he says something very important for us today, “Blessed is he who takes no offense at me.” So, there are two things here. First, does the Messiah do such things? Second, are we able to take no offense at him?
First, let us hear again the reading from the first lesson for this Third Sunday of Advent from the prophet Isaiah:
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.
And from Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives,…
Don’t these signs about the coming Messiah from Isaiah sound exactly the same as the acts and deeds of Jesus? Yes! They do! They sound exactly like the deeds of the Messiah, the Holy One of God! Jesus responds to John the Baptist’s question with a resounding “YES!”
Yet, we are going to see as the Gospel of Matthew plays out that even though Jesus does the things the Messiah does, the people who are supposed to know will not allow him to be seen for who he is. They will reject him because ‘No one from Nazareth is supposed to do these things.’
Because the people who should’ve known in Jesus’ day let their prejudice about him, their jealousy and envy of how the people loved him, blind them to who he is, they could NOT admit it. In fact, the could not admit to the point that Jesus had to die.
Are we much better? We are scienced up, gadgetted up, intellectualized up and prejudiced up to the point where we have reduced the one who gave sight to the blind, walking to the lame, cleanliness to lepers, hearing to the deaf, life to the dead and good news to the poor, to a nice moral man who gives us one more option to find peace in our addicted immoral culture. We sit around and act like, “Ya’ know for a Jewish boy, that Jesus does some really incredible things!”
We are prejudiced.
We should say, ‘Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel has come to thee, O Israel!’ Our Savior has come! He does incredible things in the lives of people who had no way. He gives our lives meaning and purpose when the world tells us we are worthless, utterly without value. He tells me that I am his beloved when the world accuses me of being less than I really am. He tells me he loves me, wants me, heals me, teaches me, strengthens me and gives me a life to live so that others may hope in him. What would your life be like if you had the same?
Gaudete Sunday is about rejoicing that our Savior has come. That is why we light the pink candle in the Advent Wreath. We are to be “tickled pink” and excited that our Lord has come into our lives and does mighty deeds to save us from ourselves, mostly. Do we receive it? Do we want to receive it? Do we really believe it, or do we let our preconceived notion of what is possible determine our image of Christ?
Shed the old ways, my friend. Shed the glasses that cause you to see what God is doing in your life as something other than what it is. Believe with innocence that Jesus is the Messiah, the one who came, lived, died and rose again so that you can get to heaven. With believing in him, believe in heaven again. Believe! Believe! That is what this Christmas is going to be about. As we anticipate the coming of the Messiah, let us once again believe in our hearts that he can come and we will know the signs! Amen? Amen.
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