In Matthew 25, Jesus talks about some sheep and goats…but this is more than a barnyard story. Jesus ultimately declares, “…what you have done to the least of these you have done to me.” In this passage, Jesus places Jesus’ self at the very center of injustice and oppression…and as such takes on such injustice and oppression. Jesus obstructs those who would want to continue committing injustice and oppressing people or would want to simply ignore such acts. Jesus gets in the way.
I heard a story a few weeks back that really moved my soul. For those who are convinced that the Spirit of God or Jesus only shows up in the Christian tradition, this story might not be for you. I met a Buddhist monk named Tashi Nyima…who is the director of the New Jonang Community in Dallas. Tashi Nyima told a story of walking downtown with a fellow monk when they stumbled on a group of men beating up on another man. The monk that Tashi was with walked up to the group and asked, “Wouldn’t it be more fun to beat up on a couple of Buddhist monks as opposed to all of you beating up on that guy?” Tashi was willing to take on the suffering of another. Tashi was unsure of what was going to happen next…surprisingly the group of men were so stunned that they simply walked away. Tashi told us as a group that it is the responsibility of the seeker of the divine to get in the way of injustice and oppression. I believe that this is a beautiful description of what it means to follow the way of love…the path that we call the way of Jesus.
One of the ways that we can all get in the way is to tell stories like the one that Tashi told that run counter to the prevailing narratives of violence, vengeance, oppression and injustice. As Sister Helen Prejean shared in the short interview we watched earlier, stories bring people close (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzgTIbOFhNY). I told a group yesterday that we are not going to abolish the death penalty here in Texas until we are able to put people in the death chamber and let them feel the horror of what happens there. Stories bring people close. If we want something different for our then we must continue and perhaps begin to tell stories that challenge and disrupt. We must refuse to adapt our lives to the prevailing narratives and tell stories that run counter to such narratives. We must tell the truth. We must offer narratives or stories that get in the way of the great opiums of selfishness, injustice and oppression and bring people close to the destruction that such opiates cause. We need to be storytellers like both Tashi Nyima, Helen Prejean and Jesus are.
Stories change the world.
Get in the way.
Bring them close.
Tell the stories that obstruct.