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June 24, 2018: The Power of Lament

by Father Jadon


One of Mother Teresa's favorite texts in the Bible, which she often quoted to support her ministry with the poor, is "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40).  This Gospel verse has been very much on my mind this past week as the news from our southern border has left me rather numb and speechless . . . news about children being separated from parents or parent figures, with seeming disregard for their emotional well being, and used as pawns in the battles around immigration that are being waged in this country.  

On Wednesday at the gym my workout partner could tell that I was out of sorts and he asked me what was wrong.  “What’s wrong?,” I replied, rather indignantly.  “Have you not seen the news?”  “No,” he replied, “I stopped watching the news months ago, and I blocked the news from all of my social media feeds. I just couldn’t bear the constant stream of bad news.”  And so I told him what was going on and we lamented what is being done, in my name and yours, to the “least of these” at our borders.

I understand the desire to shield oneself from bad news, especially when it seems beyond our control.  And yet, there is great power in lament.  There is power in the passionate expression of grief or sorrow.  Our Biblical tradition certainly shows how, time and time again, the beginning of change is lament.  To lament is to see and name a wrong. To lament is to “acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness,” as the General Confession of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer puts it, and to pronounce their burden and continuance intolerable. What is happening at our border, in my name and yours, is sinful and intolerable.  Let us lament it deeply.

To lament is to accept responsibility, if not for the wrong itself then, at least, for some part in the righting of the wrong.  The true power of lament is in the turning of mourning into morning . . . into a new reality.  That unimaginable goodness can emerge from darkness and calamity is the promise of the Resurrection.  And so, as Easter people, we can neither accept or hide from darkness nor wall off our thoughts and feelings about politics or policy from the faith and hope that rules our hearts.  We must (re)claim our power and the responsibility that emanates from it and take seriously that what we do for the least, we do for Him.

Last Published: June 22, 2018 8:40 AM
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