MONDAY: Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Status should not determine who we are but our integrity or the lack of it will speak with clarity. In fact, prestige should challenge us to walk honestly, humbly and truthfully in the presence of God and in the service of others. Sinful as we are, God yearns for our integrity (Is.62:1). God understands our struggles to grow into holiness and perfection. He stands in solidarity with us by means of his word and sacraments. It is by faith and grace he forms us into a people who are examples of the Beatitudes.
Decrying the behaviour of the priest and the Levite while exalting the neighbourliness of the Samaritan in today’s Gospel clearly demonstrates that political, social, economic or religious eminence does not make a person righteous; rather it is his/her inflexibility to be honest and to do good that is acceptable to God.
Integrity is a condition of the heart. It is living the Beatitudes. It exhibits the virtues of compassion, mercy, love and respect. It has a keen interest in promoting human life and protecting it in the same way as God and Christ would. Justice and reliability are synonymous with integrity. A person of honour seeks above all thing to live for justice and truth. It was Samaritan’s sense of justice and honour, which made him stand out head and shoulder above the priest and the Levite. What about us?
The story of Jonah is one of a deep struggle with human integrity. First, Jonah trivialized Nineveh and the people of Nineveh. Secondly, he tried to avoid doing God’s will. Thirdly, he did not stop to think of the consequences of his reckless action on the lives of others. His disobedience and his selfishness almost wrecked an entire ship and placed the lives of its occupants at risk – until, of course, Jonah did the right thing and ended the crisis. God rescued Jonah. He is waiting to rescue us just when we decide to do the same. Real human dignity and integrity is the ability and the decision to make the best choice to uphold the moral good in every given situation.
In both scenarios, Jonah, the priest, and the Levite represent who we are today when we take ourselves for granted and refuse to stand in solidarity with the vulnerable. In most instances, it is always about our ego. Once the ego gets into the way, integrity suffers.
Brant Jean, brother the late Botham Jean, in the Amber Guyger murder trial became the latest Good Samaritan on the block. Not only did he forgive his brother’s killer, but he also poured oil on her wounds by embracing her; he wished her well; he wished she would never rot in prison or hell. He punctuated his statement by saying, ‘I still love you.’ This took my mind back to the old Negro Spiritual “We shall Overcome”.
Yes! Despite the inhumane human conditions of slavery the ancestors never intended to be vindictive. Their integrity challenged them to think of walking in hand in hand and leaving in peace with their oppressors whenever they were liberated. Brant Jean, at that trial, became the incarnate expression of our ancestors’ dream – that was a strong message to an ethnically divided United States of America and to the world. If we want peace, practice integrity – not hatred. Integrity has nothing to do with the colour of my skin but the condition of my heart. My willingness to become a living beatitude for others. Yes! Grace transcends hate and builds integrity. Thanks, Brant! You gave me hope. Human and Christian solidarity is still possible.
O God, make a person of the Beatitudes.