In this introduction to the series’ fifth week, on the fourth “Mark of Love,” Br. David Vryhof explores how the prophetic witness of Jesus calls us to recognize and fight for human unity. Jesus came to tear down the walls that divide us. How can we continue this mission, challenging unjust structures, working for peace and reconciliation?
Transcript: When Jesus came to live among us, his voice was a voice of comfort and of hope, a voice of love and assurance. He told us that God loved us and valued us. He lifted up the poor and gave them a special dignity.
But his voice at times was also a voice of warning, a prophetic voice. His voice was at times a critical voice pointing out human hypocrisy, challenging human systems of oppression. He challenged the religious rulers of his day and the systems that they put in place – systems that divided people, that distinguished between the “righteous” and the “unrighteous,” between the ones favored by God and those despised by God. Some were “in” and some were “out.” And Jesus challenged those systems by the way that he acted and by the way that he taught.
And so part of the mission of those who are followers of Jesus in the world is to be a prophetic presence in the world: to see and to challenge unjust structures; to challenge oppression; to challenge the separation of the powerful against the weak, or the rich against the poor; to break down those walls that divide us; to lift up the lowly, and to give them honor and dignity; to ensure that they have every opportunity to live into the fullness of their lives.
And so we who follow Jesus also take on this mission in the world. This is a mark of God’s love and a mark of our witness in the world, our work in the world, our vocation in the world — to challenge unjust structures that oppress and divide people, to challenge violence of every kind, and to pursue peace and reconciliation. Christ came to tear down the walls that divide us and he urges us to do the same — to reach across the racial, and cultural, and class divisions that separate us. To stop thinking in terms of “we” and “them” and to see the unity of all people, all of us created in God’s image, loved by God, and valued by God. And to work toward peace and reconciliation wherever strife, and hatred, anger, and division exist.
This week we’ll be exploring this Mark of Love and trying to ask how we can live more fully into the prophetic role that God has invited us into in imitation of Jesus, in imitation of the prophets of God throughout history who have spoken challenging words to those who oppress with power and privilege.
This is an important part of our mission that we consider this week together in prayer and in dialogue with one another.
– Br. David Vryhof
Icons are images that open us up. They act as windows that let the light of God shine in. This week’s activity invites you to compose your own “icon” for the Kingdom of God. Draw or paste in pictures that help you recall God’s vision, to create a collage that lets God’s light shine in.