shaken me, and compelled me to speak about those "inconvenient truths."
Yesterday, for instance, the gospel, Luke 17.11-19, told the story of Jesus'
healing of the ten lepers, only one of whom returned to thank him.
At first, I thought, "Oh, preach a safe sermon on 'thanksgiving,'
something no one will criticize you for (but, truthfully, somebody
would have probably taken offence, even at that subject)."
I almost preached on thanksgiving. I wanted to preach that sermon.
People would have benefited from being reminded of the importance of thanksgiving.
I would have.
But the Living Jesus, whom I meet in the Holy Scriptures, wouldn't
let me preach that safe sermon. No. He wanted me to say something
unsafe, provocative, controversial--again!
So I did, focusing on the lepers' plea: "Jesus, master, have mercy
I preached about the lack of empathy today (drawing from a recent
column by psychologist Daniel Goleman) and the corresponding
lack of mercy and love, which is mercy in action.
(The essay below from the Alban Institute says more about the Christian responsibility
for a just world).
And I cited some specifics about a truly alarming deficit--that
in empathy, in mercy, and in loving attention.
I mentioned how today the hungry cry for mercy;
how the poor, children, the working poor,
the elderly, the sick cry for mercy; how so many are crying for mercy.
From us. From the followers of Jesus--Jesus, who is God's empathy,
mercy and loving attention to needy, suffering human beings.
Now, I hope I'm wrong. But I imagined that people
who listened to my sermon yesterday
were saying silently, and perhaps even aloud to friends later:
"Enough. We've heard it all before. Change
the subject. Stop bothering us with these inconvenient truths."
And I imagined my saying to them:
"I will. When the Living Jesus lets me.
When we finally have a society that exhibits empathy,
mercy, and loving attention to others' needs, which is God's will
for the world. Until then, I must speak."
The truth as God's Living Word, Jesus, gives it to me.