WHAT DOES SUSPICIOUS LOOK LIKE?
Fifth week in the March of Jesus on Jerusalem
Message from the Church in the Struggle
There is a country song called “suspicious minds.” It was a duet sung by Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter. In the song, they are in love with each other but constantly suspecting each other of cheating. So they fight. In the song they ask, “How can we live together with “suspicious minds?”
We all have suspicious minds. We want to be good –and we want to be safe. But none of us are perfect. We have cause to distrust each other. So we develop suspicious minds. Just as the little serpent in the garden, that caused Adam and Eve so much trouble, grew into great dragon in the Book of Revelations, just so suspicious minds when they grow to be a part of the social order, part of the world, just so they cause misery to all humanity.
This week the nation is talking about the murder of Travon Martin by a man named Zimmerman. Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch captain, protecting a gated community of rich people. He saw a young African American boy wearing a hoody and decided he ”looked suspicious.” He chased him and ended up shooting him to death – for looking suspicious.
In North Carolina, we are focusing the eyes of the immigration movement on Gabino Sanchez. He is being denied prosecutorial discretion, threatened with deportation and separation from his U.S. citizen children, because he was stopped eight times and given tickets for driving without a license. Why was he stopped by a racist police officer? Because he looked “suspicious,” he looked Latino.
We live in a nation that, like Zimmerman, is suspicious of young African American and Latino men, suspicious of undocumented parents with U.S. citizen children, because it fears that these young people of color will grow up to take away their “gated nation”, their wealth that was gained at the expense of the poor of the world, their wealth that was gained by exploiting the labor of people of color of this country, of slaves and ex-slaves, of the undocumented. And this dragon of suspicion drives them to murder and to the cruel practice of destroying families and destroyed young people’s lives.
We are in the fifth week of a journey with Jesus to Jerusalem. Before he enters the city, he does something which defines the purpose of his ministry. A blind man calls out to him, recognizing him as the savior of his people. “What do you want?”Jesus asks.”I want to see,” he responds. And Jesus makes him see.
What does Jesus want the people to see?
In the Old Testament scripture it says the Blind will see so they can walk on “The Holy Way.”
In the gospel of John, Jesus also heals a blind man. The leaders are furious. They are suspicious of Jesus. They want to prove that it was a trick. They talk to his parents who say he was born blind. Then they turn on the man and demand that he denounce Jesus. He says,”All know is that I was blind, but now I see.” So they run him out of town and ban him from the temple. He then looks to follow Jesus.
Why were the leaders so suspicious of Jesus? You see, once they were young and wanted to be good – and safe. Then suspicion drove them to distrust others, to refuse to forgive others, to be afraid to be poor. They became greedy and banded together to corrupt the faith and the temple. They excluded the poor to protect their wealth and sold out their people to the Roman conquerors. And they were suspicious of anyone who threatened their “gated community.”Finally, that suspicion would drive them to murder Jesus, the faithful son of God. All Jesus asked was that they repent of their sins, forgive each other and accept the forgiveness of God in new lives. For this they killed him.
Sometimes a society, a nation, is so steeped in the ways of suspicion and greed, so paranoid, that racism and greed consume the soul of that nation and it becomes a nation so blinded that its people cannot see the Way God makes for us.
And that blind nation becomes our problem. Why else would they so violently and passionately want to drive out hardworking families who have contributed so much to the nation? Suspicion is not rational. It is Satan’s workings.
Those it cannot drive out, it tries to make like them. It asks us to be suspicious of the whole world, to join in terrorizing the world in a “war on terror” to protect the wealth and privilege of this nation.
And if you join this suspicious nation, you will become like Zimmerman, unpaid guardians of someone else’s wealth, unpaid murderers. And like Cash and Carter in the song, your marriages and your relationships, your friendships and your churches and your movements will fall apart from “suspicious minds.”
Sometimes we recognize the truth. We really just do want to be good. In our hearts we don’t really want to be rich and mean and set against each other and against the world. But where do we stand? Who will stand with us? We can’t SEE the way to walk.
I see people in the evangelical meetings. They see Jesus and they say “I am saved.”But then they walk out of the meeting and back into the world. Nothing is changed and there is no way to walk and they return to “suspicious minds”, sometimes with a vengeance, judging and hating their own people. And then there are the preachers who claimed to have brought them to Jesus, or in other cases to have heard their confessions and offered them forgiveness- and these preachers and priests, like the Pharisees that murdered Jesus, live like princes in compromise with our oppressors.
I don’t doubt that the people have seen Jesus – but they haven’t seen the way to walk with him in the world. We’re like someone who determines to go on a healthy diet and finds themselves living in giant MacDonald’s Store!
The dogs of suspicion follow us down dark roads where the streetlights have gone out. They not only want to arrest us they want to possess us!
Where do we stand? Where do we walk? Look at the politics. The Republicans express hate for us. The Democrats lie to us. Both suspect us of wanting to take away what they have stolen.
Yet if we are willing to walk with Jesus, every year, every year there will be a harvest and every year there will be more people overcoming suspicion, joined together in a common ministry. Remember, Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God is not somewhere in the sky. The Kingdom of God is amongst us! We have to learn to forgive and to trust each other. We have to learn to rely on each other –and to trust in God!
I believe with all my heart that this church is blessed and is teaching us to SEE they way to walk in the Kingdom of God. Through this gift, God is showing us that we can be good without being perfect if we do not seek the praises of men more than God – for only God is truly good. And through this gift we have found a community of protection, a community that protects us from wicked men and wicked hypocritical laws, and encourages us to trust each other, to forgive our imperfections and to seek together a life of goodness instead of the fake American Dream of the ”Good Life.”
Yet we have learned that to SEE the way to walk in we must make again the journey every year, the journey to overcome suspicion, the journey to struggle for God’s people.
We said today, ”Gracias Gabino,” for the case –and the witness-of Gabino Sanchez because it has given us a voice to again demand protection from deportation. It has shown us away to walk between the hatred of the republicans and the lies of the democrats.
And as we continue to grow the community of protection for our families, we are also called to organize a witness of trust in our young people, in the people who wear hoodies. The nation of suspicion has failed to solve the crises in health care in this country. The 4 plus 1 to get 20 campaign we are fighting to organize this summer is also a campaign to overcome the suspicion of our next generation. We believe in them. We believe that they will work to overcome the 20 year life gap, to save these years for their mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles. The young people wearing hoodies, like the boy suspicion shot down in cold blood, are the ones that can save us.
The Way of Jesus that we try imperfectly to follow has given us so many miracles. Look at the families that are here together that the law said should be separated. Remember our sign this year- that after the posada at Rush Hospital, the brother who was blind now can see!
And we are coming soon to the time, after Easter, when we will begin to organize our new faith groups. We will find new ways this year, to learn and pray together, to organize so that we are self-reliant and have what we need to do what God calls us to do.
Take off the clothes of suspicion. The Lord has a brand new coat of many colors for you to wear! You can see each other’s imperfections-but suspicion makes you blind to the person, the man, the woman, the boy, the girl- that He has made in his own image. Take off the dark glasses of suspicion and see the sun. You know what suspicion has done to you –don’t let it make you do the same to each other.
What do you want,” Jesus asked. “I want to see. I want us to see each other. I want us to see the Way God is making for us. I want to see the Way to be good in a wicked world. I want to see love in a family that never dies. I want to see!
And Jesus touched their eyes and gave them sight…What does “suspicious” look like? IT LOOKS LIKE JESUS!
Amen? Amen? Amen!
The Holy Scriptures for the Fifth Week of Jesus Marching on Jerusalem
John 9: 24-34 The Authorities investigate Jesus’ healing of a blind man
A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” He replied, “Whether Jesus is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Matthew 20:29-34 Two Blind Men Receive Sight
As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.