I had a wake up call today. Which is always good in Lent. Jesus didn’t turn away from looking into the painful corners of human existence. We even confess our faith that he descended into the deepest places of loss, in the creed, when we say ”he descended to the dead.” Today, I read a powerful story of God’s grace in a place of darkness. Here’s the background to the story.
Glenn Beck’s recent unfriendly comments about churches which practice social/economic justice have drawn criticism in a variety of venues, including a furor of discusson on Facebook and on other bloggers’ sites.
One of the responses to Beck’s remarks came through Joan Chittester, a Benedictine sister, famous in her own right, a widely respected and formidable teacher of the Christian spiritual life, whose commitment to social justice is unswerving. Prophetic spirituality is a good expression for Chittester’s style. She shares the fire of the spirit so often seen in prophets and in Jesus on behalf of the poor, the oppressed, the sick, the hurt, the hungry, the thirsty, in short, the neighbor in need.
Her response to Glenn Beck is gently mind-blowing—-that is you start out reading without realizing you’ll be different at the end of the article. I don’t often use the word “should” when I recommend something to read. But here I will say it: Reader, you should read Joan Chittester’s response. It will change your day.
Her blog is called “From Where I Stand,” which is a nice play on Luther’s “here I stand, I can do no other.” The article concerns a Sister of the Good Shepherd, Sr. Marie Claude Naddaf, who Chittester tells us, is “here to receive the U.S. State Department’s ‘International Women of Courage Award.’ Given to 10 women around the globe who have shown “exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and advancement,” the awards purpose is to support women who are working for the equality of women everywhere.”
The rest of the article is here
Sr. Marie Claude Naddaf has taken on the human rights of women in Syria, and in particular, the rights of women who have been sold into sexual slavery. It will not depress you to read this article. In fact, it will open your heart even more to God, for it is open-hearted courage like Sr. Marie Claude’s and those who help her, that herald the coming of the kingdom of God in this world.
Holy reading, indeed. Sr. Marie Claude’s work helps open our eyes to the ways in which those who are in Christ are truly a new creation. And for this reader, at least, she bears witness to the power of one person’s love of righteousness. Moved by deep compassion, as the father of the prodigal was, she had to act on that compassion, for true compassion, true mercy, always includes justice.