(Jos 5.9a,10-12; 2 Cor 5.17-21; Lk 15.1-3, 11-32)
My office in Wellington is on Hill street, just across the road from parliament ground where dissent and protest against vaccine mandates raged for over three weeks. Some in our office were abused and had coffee thrown at them. Round the streets in shops and apartments anger simmered.
There was recognition that some protestors had genuine grievances and asked serious questions; but there was far more anger at the gross disinformation on display, the presence of many disaffected spoiling for a brawl, and the naivety of those who did not see the manipulation of hidden background instigators stirring the confrontation from afar.
Yet at the same time all in our office had acquaintances, friends or even family members who had refused to be vaccinated for a whole variety of reasons. How were we to grapple with such a dilemma as followers of Christ.
The parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15.11-31) helps us to reflect on this issue. The father is first of all a reconciler and healer. He knows of the younger son’s wild life and the dubious motivations that lead him home. He understands that the older brother feels cheated and poorly appreciated. Yet the father welcomes the younger brother unreservedly and does not hesitate to plead with the older, a behaviour unheard of in such Middle Eastern culture.
Paul in his letter (5.20) insists that just as Christ was a messenger of reconciliation and forgiveness, so we who are his followers must be. We still may not agree with the anti-vaxxers but we must treat them with dignity and respect for they are our brothers and sisters. It is only behaviour like this that may help to stitch together a nation torn by anger and abuse.
4th Sunday Lent year CThis Sunday