Homily – June 25, 2017

There was a very disappointing article in the Star on Wednesday on a woman walking into a clinic in Mississauga demanding to see ‘a white doctor who doesn’t have brown teeth and speaks English’. I saw a video of the event on the website of the Huffington Post. It was really shocking. It looked like she expected to be seen before all the people of color who were waiting patiently for their appointments because she was white and should be seen immediately with her son who had a breathing problem. She was clueless as to how her demands dismissed and diminished the men and women waiting their turn to be seen.

A man waiting for his appointment filmed the whole thing. He said, ‘I could have just ignored it but some inner voice convinced me that it was totally wrong and there was no room for misinterpretation – I am a realist and I know these things exist but watching something like this in front of your own eyes, so openly and boldly just shocked me.’ He filmed the whole thing and it’s been seen by thousands of viewers.

I’m sure many of the people in that waiting room kept their heads down and wished the woman would go away but others in the room challenged her for being a racist and a bigot.

In today’s gospel Jesus is sending his twelve apostles out on the road to spread his message that God’s kingdom is in their midst. They are to speak this truth boldly – what Jesus said to them in private, they were to proclaim from the house tops. They were to be fearless; they were not to let themselves be intimidated by the authorities. “Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven.’ Jesus warned them they might be driven out of synagogues and towns but they were to keep on with their tasks. They were to fear no one except the persons who would try to get them to water down their message, take the heart out of Christ’s teachings. They were the ones who could kill the soul.

The men and women who confronted the women in that clinic about her bigotry and racism were in fact acknowledging the teaching of Jesus that we are to love and respect other men and women regardless of the color of their skin or the land of their origin.

These good people are an example to us. Like them we are all called to stand up and speak up against men and women who put down and belittle men and women of other faiths, other races, other social class, and other life styles. Christ’s new and revolutionary commandment is ‘love one another as I have loved you’. It is not an easy commandment to follow. We all have our built in prejudices, attitudes toward other people that we’ve picked up by osmosis, within our own families. As Canadians we pride ourselves for being a multicultural society but often times we discover that this can be a thin veneer hiding our latent resistance to the other and the different.

Today’s gospel and that harmful, distasteful event in the clinic in Mississauga should make us all stop and think and make us honestly face the efforts we have to make in our daily exchange with men and women of a faith or a nationality or a life style different from our own. I read somewhere that to be a bearer of the word of God means to suffer, because that word inevitably encounters hostility and rejection.

As we continue to celebrate this Eucharist we pray for ourselves and for each other that we have the conviction to stand up and speak up against those who would belittle and diminish the worth and dignity of another person. Especially this weekend.