Reflecting on Matthew 5: 13-16
Jesus invited his disciples to be Real Salt, and Real Light, and by accounts we have of the earliest Christians, they really were. The second century theologian Tertullian imagined the pagans observing the behavior of the Christians and saying, “See how they love one another!”
Our parish is hosting an eye-opening class on Racial Equity. I realize, to my shock, that the places where I thought I was bringing salt—like taking a Spanish class in order to know a tiny bit about the parishioners in my heavily Hispanic parish years ago—were the same places I was rubbing salt in old wounds—like nominating myself to proclaim the Spanish-language reading, poorly, instead of yielding it to the actual Spanish speakers in the parish. Shivers.
I learned in class about an African-American employer who asked a young, white male applying for a job if he noticed her color. He gave the same answer I imagine myself giving, “Not at all. I don’t see color.” The interviewer helped him understand that it’s okay, it’s honest, really, to say something like, “Of course I see your color. If I didn’t I wouldn’t see you.”
Why was he afraid to give that answer? Perhaps he was wrestling with an unconscious assumption that seeing color means seeing someone who is “less than,” and he doesn’t see her that way. And that goes in both directions. When people of all ethnic backgrounds insist they don’t “see color,” might they also be really saying, “I don’t see you with the damaged worldview that I might have unconsciously received from the culture”?
Real salt. Real light. Jesus challenges us to bring Real Peace by sweeping out the dusty corners of our own hearts.
Kathy McGovern ©2020