In his book Tattoos on the Heart, Trinity favorite Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, retells a story during one of his prison chaplain moments that has stuck with me:
“All throughout Scripture and history, the principal suffering of the poor is not that they can’t pay their rent on time or that they are all three dollars short of a package of Pampers. As Jesus scholar Marcus Borg points out, the principle suffering of the poor is shame and disgrace. It is a toxic shame-a global sense of failure of the whole self. This shame can seep so down. I asked a homie once, after Mass at a probation camp, if he had any brothers and sisters.
‘Yeah,’ he says, ‘I have one brother and one sister,’ and then he’s quick to add, with emphasis, ‘but THEY’RE GOOD.’
‘Oh,’ I tell him, ‘and that would make YOU. . . ?’
‘Here,’ he says, ‘locked up.’
‘And THAT would make you. . . ?’ I try again.
‘Bad,’ he says. . . You seek to imitate the kind of God you believe in, where disappointment is, well, Greek to Him.” (Pg. 52)
It’s funny the way the God we actually believe in shows up. During my time in previous community engagement/outreach over the years, there was a prevailing mentality that the things we offered, people should just be “happy they’re getting what they get.” As we continue these “Lean ins” over the next few weeks after service, may we remember that we have a God of abundance, no matter where life has lead us that we are ALL GOOD, that love will guide us home, and that when we meet those on the margins that this is the kind of God we remember we worship.
Hope to see you all this Sunday after service for our second of four “Lean in conversations.” If you haven’t, please sign up for them here.
Grace and peace,
George Benson (he/him)