Martin Luther wrote, “A theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls a thing what it really is.” (Heidelberg Disputation, #21) In other words, a theologian of the cross is a truth-teller. It would be a mistake to expect that we will be rewarded for telling the truth. Things do not usually go well for truth-tellers. Jeremiah had his beard pulled out and was thrown down a cistern, and John the Baptist had his head chopped off. In today’s world, whistle-blowers are fired, or like former CIA employee Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information, spend the rest of their lives in exile.
Perhaps the hardest part is knowing when to speak the law prophetically and when to speak the gospel pastorally. The counsel of the prophets such as Jeremiah may be distilled into a question: What is the effect of our actions on the frail elderly, on the disabled, on people living with mental illness, on the transgendered youth, on the person living with Alzheimer’s Disease?
God of the widow and orphan, open our ears and eyes so that we may be converted to the perspective of the poor. When the consequences of our collective actions are detrimental to the most vulnerable members of our community, grant us the courage to speak the truth in love. Amen. — RF