Jerusalem, Jerusalem (A poetic Reflection on Matthew 23:27-39)
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!”
The more I think about it,
the more I realize
Jesus wasn’t merely talking
about a city in his frame of reference
at a time long before electricity, the internet, or social media.
He was simply talking about the power of the powerful
and the powerful’s habit of misusing that power.
There was a time during the beginning of the pandemic,
when I realized the prophets would be stoned
and that all the work many of us did
trying to do our part,
and the month and a half or so
that many of us stayed home and worked from home
would be for naught,
and COVID would be here to stay.
The power was there (in the beginning, anyway)
to flatten the curve
but what it took was so uncomfortable
that those in power chose instead to pretend
that the virus was not more powerful than them.
And it didn’t matter how many of us stayed home,
How many of us wore a mask,
The handwriting on the wall
Was that more people had no intention of doing so,
And became more entrenched in their beliefs
And louder in expressing their power,
And the window for changing the course of it all
The hope of stemming it all
was dashed on the rocks
and we would have to find a new place
to store post-pandemic hopes–
–vaccines, effective treatment, mutations toward milder variants–
And they’d have to be shelved
Right next to mid-pandemic reality.
And so the messengers were stoned
And far too many
have chosen to believe those
who seem to have the best
social media dissemination skills,
over those who have the best scientific skills,
because it makes our outrage more palatable.
And at the same time,
I shook my head
at those who seemed to be
on the side
of what I felt was the righteous action
who became more interested
in shaming and blaming
and using it to assuage their own outrage.
Sadly, where do Christians often go with it,
when we want to feel vindicated
with our outrage?
no matter which side we are on,
it’s always Jesus and the moneychangers
in the temple
we point towards,
and say, “See? I’m justified.”
We forget his outrage was at power
And those who held it and refused to yield it–
And instead use it as our justification
to verbally tear each other limb from limb
or retain the comfortable status quo.
When this is all over,
will we have the courage
to name our whitewashed tombs,
to heal the divides between us,
or will we choose to wallow in our self-righteousness,
whatever it happens to be,
Hold on to our outrage, whatever the source,
with ghostly white knuckles
and no room for reconciliation in our tightly clenched fists when this is all over?
Are we simply another Jerusalem?
Maria Evans splits her week between being a pathologist and laboratory director in Kirksville, MO, and gratefully serving in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri , as Interim Priest at Trinity-St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Hannibal, MO.
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