Which side of the gate is safest? – 15th Sunday after Trinity
The idea of the ‘gated community’ has grown enormously in recent years, but it is attractive for all the wrong reasons. Access is controlled by gates and sometimes even security guards, the rest of the perimeter has high walls and supposedly no one ‘undesirable’ can ever get in.
They are a symptom of societies that are so divided, so unequal, with such a small proportion of those who might be called well off and a vast number of those living in poverty, where such communities fear that at any moment the dreadful reality of their society could come crashing into their lives and homes.
Gated communities are an attempt to deny the truth, to create a bubble of existence, that shuts its ears and eyes to the pain and suffering of society, in which one is actually involved and of which one might be also a cause. In today’s gospel reading Jesus confronts the timeless reality of injustice and indifference.
Lent is a pilgrimage, a journey into, perhaps, previously uncharted territory and not always the most comfortable of places. But in all the talk of repentance during Lent, we should also remember that the word in its Greek and Hebrew roots means much more than simply feeling sorry.
It was G.K Chesterton who wrote: The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult, and left untried.
The prophets tell us that it is the duty of the people of God to care about and be advocates for those who are poor and powerless – and Jesus’ first concern was for those who were the most vulnerable and had no voice.
We like to form a pattern of the world, a mental map of how things work, why they happen, an explanation of the way the world works, and why. We tend to seek explanations for new things according to the old ways.
Generally, it can serve us well.
It makes our world feel more constant, more predictable, less random and unstable – it also cuts down on mental processing time – we can assume certain constants, and concentrate on what is changing before our eyes.