Weekly Word

Weekly Word

This week in the life of persons in this province, we anticipate celebration and thanksgiving with public holidays. June 24 is significant in the life of persons in this culture and region of the world. This date is remembered as the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, as well as Discovery Day, and St. John’s Day. In various ways, both secular and sacred, celebration and thanksgiving occurs with faith communities, municipal communities, and in society in general.

We name dates and offer perspectives of celebration and remembrance in this culture, which at best are arbitrary. The feast of John’s birth was not guaranteed – not many families will know the exact date and time of the birth of their loved one. In addition, the arrival of Giovanni Caboto at Bonavista with seventeen others with the Matthew on June 24, 1497 was a chance encounter as well. Winds and waves, currents and swells could have easily changed date and location.

These names and dates at times are so unhelpful. They speak of supporting and encouraging a skewed perspective – one emphasizes one strand of the woven story of history. In this case one strand which ignores the realities of indigenous presence in Newfoundland and Labrador, and one that dismisses any other expression of culture except that of European Settlers coming to this land.

As an immigrant European myself, this is a hard thing to swallow. I recognize the legacy of the culture of my birth, and how it has suppressed and oppressed so many diverse cultures, expressions, and ethnicities. I know that I and others have to repent, and listen from a place of humility, love, and equality.

This may be hard for some to come to grips with; this indeed may be almost impossible. In the letting go of power and control, as John the Baptizer urges in the Scripture – to wash, repent, return to the Holy One – it involves stripping away all pride, power, privilege and prestige. We are called dripping wet from being washed clean, to stand equally with all others.

The Psalms and Isaiah, as Scriptural tenets, help us in this task. Psalm 85 reminds us that the Holy One offers pardon, forgiveness and restoration. The steadfast love and faithfulness of the Holy One is the promise, even when in our humility and repentance, we feel as if we are broken, never to be made whole once again. Isaiah reminds us that there is a way through wilderness and hardship, through pain and rough places on our journey, so that we are embraced by the Holy One, restored, and rejuvenated.

This is the reminder for us. In the mistakes of the present and within history, there is opportunity for redemption. The genocide of indigenous peoples in this land, and across Canada, can be atoned. The raping of the land that has produced this climate emergency, can be transformed. The pride, power, privilege and oppression offered by rulers, settlers, landowners, can be reconciled.

All this involves repentance – turning around, turning to the Holy One – in humility, in trust, and letting go of those pieces that we believe are owed us or due to us.

All the earth is gift to share. All creation is for all creation. We are but small parts in the economy of the Holy One. Let us move with humility and repentance with our sisters and brothers – and begin to right the wrongs of history.




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