Archive for the ‘Social Justice’ Tag

Feast of James Arthur MacKinnon (June 19)   Leave a comment

Ottawa 01

Above:  A Germane Headline from The Ottawa Journal, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Article accessed via



Canadian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr in the Dominican Republic

Most of the saints (canonized and otherwise) I add to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, lived and died hundreds of years ago.  Some lived and died thousands of years ago.  With this post I add another saint who lived and died decades ago.


The divine mandate of social justice thunders off the pages of the Old and New Testaments.  It is prominent in the Law of Moses, with the ethos of interdependence and condemnation of human exploitation.  The divine mandate is also prominent in the pronouncements of Hebrew prophets, as in Amos 8:4-6 (The New Revised Standard Version:  Catholic Edition, 1993):

Hear this, you that trample on the needy,

and bring to ruin the poor of the land,

saying, “When will the new moon be over

so that we may sell grain;

and the sabbath,

so that we may offer wheat for sale?

We will make the ephah small and the shekel great,

and practice deceit with false balances,

buying the poor for silver

and the needy for a pair of sandals,

and selling the sweepings of the wheat.”

Jesus identified himself with that ethos of economic justice when he quoted from Isaiah 61 and 58 at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-19).  And, in Revelation 18, those who profited from business arrangements with the fallen Roman Empire (“Babylon”) mourn the fall of that corrupt and exploitative government:

And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, choice flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, slaves–and human lives.

–Revelation 18:11-13, The New Revised Standard Version:  Catholic Edition (1993)

James Arthur MacKinnon, born at New Victoria, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, on September 30, 1932, learned that ethos well and gave his life acting according to it.  He was 32 years old when he died.


Before I expand on those statements I must, if I am to write this post properly, explain the situation in the Dominican Republic, on the island of Hispaniola.  The ownership of land in the American colonies of the Spanish Empire was concentrated into the hands of a small minority of the population.  This meant that the vast majority of people were poor and landless.   This pattern remained after colonies became independent countries, which frequently had unstable political systems as well as  long stretches of time with military dictatorships as the norms.  Meanwhile, the landless poor desired land at least as much as large landowners resisted efforts to break up estates.

Dominican Republic 1945

Above:  A Map of Hispaniola in 1945

Image Source = Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

In 1930 military leader Rafael Trujillo began his 31-year-long rule via a stolen election.  Sometimes he was the President of the Dominican Republic; at other times one puppet or another occupied the presidency.  Nevertheless, Trujillo was the de facto ruler (and sometimes de jure leader) of his country from 1930 to 1961.  His was a brutal regime.  It had started by means of thugs (secret police) torturing and killing supporters of his opponent in the election of 1930.  Trujillo tolerated no dissent and ordered the executions of tens of thousands of people, sometimes at once.  He also instituted policies which made him extremely wealthy at the expense of the masses, built up the capital city (Santo Domingo, which he renamed “Ciudad Trujillo” after himself in 1936) to the detriment of the common good, harmed the rural areas, and presided over a cult of personality.  His reign ended via assassination on May 30, 1961.  Ciudad Trujillo reverted to Santo Domingo, but Trujillo loyalists abounded.

Juan Bosch, a historian and novelist, was a leftist opponent of Trujillo.  Bosch had gone into exile in 1937 and founded the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) two years later.  He appealed to intellectuals, the middle class, and the poor.  Bosch won the presidential election of December 1962 in a landslide.  His time in office (February 27-September 25, 1963) was brief.  In the context of the Cold War Bosch’s plans for the redistribution of land alarmed the Kennedy Administration and large Dominican landowners alike.  Bosch’s desire to rein in the military upset elements of the armed forces.  His pro-labor politics alarmed industrialists.  And Bosch’s plans for a secular republic upset elements of the Roman Catholic Church opposed to the separation of church and state.  A military coup d’etat sent Bosch into exile in Puerto Rico (1963-1965).

Dominican Republic 1968

Above:  A Map of Hispaniola in 1968

Image Source = Rand McNally World Atlas–Imperial Edition (1968)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Civil War broke out on April 25, 1965.  The junta lost power, and a revolt to restore Bosch to power started.  The Revolutionary Committee held power for a few hours on April 25 before the two-day-long provisional presidency of Jose Rafael Molina Urena started.  During the interregnum (April 28-30) the Johnson Administration dispatched Marines to the Dominican Republic.  Pedro Bartolome Benoit led the U.S.-backed side from May 1 to 7.  Then General Antonio Imbert Barrera (who had participated in the assassination of Trujillo in 1961) succeeded Benoit, remaining in office until August 30.  On the opposite, pro-Bosch side Francisco Alberto Caamano Deno served as the rival president from May 4 to September 3, 1965.

Caught up in the civil war were thousands of innocent civilians.  Imbert’s U.S.-supported forces rounded up several thousand civilians, executed most of them, and disposed of almost all of the corpses.  This situation was intolerable to James Arthur MacKinnon, a 32-year old Roman Catholic priest whom the Scarboro Foreign Mission Society of Canada had sent to the Dominican Republic.  Father Art, or, as Dominicans knew him, Padre Arturo, worked from his home base about 55 miles outside Santo Domingo.  He was a known quantity to Dominican officialdom, for he had been agitating for land redistribution.  He protested the mass arrests and detention of civilians, making this a prominent part of a sermon.  He also interceded with officials, securing the release of some of these political prisoners.  On June 22, 1965, two police officers murdered Padre Arturo at Monte Plata.  Then a soldier killed the assassins.

Imbert’s forces (and, by extension, Imbert himself) were responsible for MacKinnon’s death.  U.S. journalist Drew Pearson minced no words about this fact in his syndicated column one week.

Pearson 01A

Pearson 01B

Pearson 02A

Pearson 02B

Pearson 03

Source = The Indiana Gazette, Indiana, Pennsylvania, August 14, 1965, Page 20

Accessed via

In Canada, MacKinnon’s native country, press reports were likewise clear about this point.

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Ottawa 02

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Source = The Ottawa Journal, Ottawa, Ontario, July 19, 1965, Page 17

Accessed via

The Dominican cover story was flimsy.  Imbert’s forces claimed that MacKinnon had been driving a jeep, zigzagging toward a military road block, refusing to stop at it.  Physical evidence contradicted that lie, however.  No, the policemen shot Padre Arturo at close range, according to three criminologists the Organization of American States sent to investigate this matter.


The immediate settlement of the civil war entailed replacing the rival presidents with a provisional president, Hector Garcia Godoy, who served from September 3, 1965 to July 1, 1966.  Bosch returned to his native country and ran in the election of 1966, which he lost to U.S.-backed Joachim Balaguer.  Balaguer had been a puppet Vice President (1957-1960) and President (1960-1962) of the Dominican Republic under Turjillo.  The Johnson Administration and its successors supported Balaguer, who stole elections, jailed certain dissents, executed some of those dissidents, seized some opposition newspapers, and did little-to-nothing to help the poor.

James MacKinnon, a Canadian journalist and nephew of our saint, investigated the murder of Padre Arturo four decades after the fact.  He encountered much interference in the Dominican Republic, where many people remain loyal to Trujillo and his followers, and where the murder of Father Art continues to be politically sensitive.  The younger MacKinnon wrote of the murder of his uncle and of the realities of the Dominican Republic in Dead Man in Paradise (2006).

The problem of institutionalized and rampant poverty in the Dominican Republic continues.


“Take up your cross and follow me,” Jesus commanded.  Padre Arturo MacKinnon obeyed our Lord and Savior.  The example of this troublesome priest should teach us, among other things, about the divine mandate to oppose economic injustice and to live according to the Golden Rule.  The servant is not greater than the master.  Consider, O reader, what happened to Jesus, the master.  Sometimes, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer understood correctly, the call of Christian discipleship is an invitation to die for a righteous cause.





Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servant James Arthur MacKinnon,

to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60



Proper 15, Year C   Leave a comment


Above:  A Sonoma Valley, California, Vineyard

Image Source = Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF34-9058-C]

Injustice and Its Consequences

The Sunday Closest to August 17

Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost

AUGUST 14, 2016


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 5:1-7 and Psalm 80:1-2, 8-18


Jeremiah 23:23-29 and Psalm 82


Hebrews 11:29-12:2

Luke 12:49-56

The Collect:

Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Proper 15, Year A:

Proper 15, Year B:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

Prayer of Confession:

Prayer of Dedication:

Isaiah 5:

Hebrews 11-12:

Luke 12:


The readings for this Sunday sound a note of judgment.

I begin with Luke 12:49-56.  Read it, O reader of this post, in literary context:  reed it in the context of precedes and follows it immediately.  The context is one of Jesus comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable hypocrites, especially certain Pharisees.  As a matter of fact, Jesus was, in the Lukan narrative, en route to Jerusalem to die.  Yes, he was a cause of conflict.  Yes, he remains one.

Do not test and oppose God, the readings say.  Do not follow false gods and prophets–even out of ignorance, they tell us.  Repent–straighten up and fly right–or face the consequences, they attest.  And Isaiah 5:7 speaks of the need to repent of injustice.  The Hebrew prophets decried corruption, idolatry, and economic injustice more than any sexual acts.  Yet I detect a preoccupation with sexual acts at the expense of condemnations of corruption and economic injustice–related problems–in many Christian quarters.  This reality indicates misplaced priorities on the part of those I criticize.

To commit idolatry is to focus on anything other than God when one should focus on God.  Thus idolatry is commonplace and idols are varied and ubiquitous.  But one can become mindful of one’s idolatry and seek to reduce one’s instances of committing it.  The problems of corruption and economic injustice are systemic.  One can act constructively; one should do so.  These systems are of human origin, so people can change them.  Yet we can do this only by grace.  May we do so.  May we love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  And may we therefore avert harm to others and destruction of ourselves.






Proper 14, Year C   Leave a comment


Above:  The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., 1964

Photograph by Dick DeMarsico, World Telegraph and Sun

Image Source = Library of Congress

Active, Abrahamic Faith

The Sunday Closest to August 10

Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost

AUGUST 7, 2016


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 and Psalm 50:1-8, 23-24


Genesis 15:1-6 and Psalm 33:12-22


Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

Luke 12:32-40

The Collect:

Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Proper 14, Year A:

Proper 14, Year B:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

Prayer of Confession:

Prayer of Dedication:

Isaiah 1:

Genesis 15:

Hebrews 11:

Luke 12:


We human beings use the same word in different ways, with a variety of meanings.  Consider, O reader, the word “day,” for example.  People say,

In my day…


Back in the day…,

as well as

There is a new day coming.

Or “day” might apply literally, as in when today separates yesterday from tomorrow.

The same principle applies to “faith” in the New Testament.  The Apostle Paul, in Romans, used it to mean something inherently active, which leads to works.  A Pauline formula is that as a person thinks, so he or she is.  The Letter of James contains a different definition, that of intellectual assent to a proposition or set of propositions.  So, according to that definition, faith without works is dead.  Both epistles agree on the imperative of active faith, so one need not imagine a discrepancy between their conclusions.

And there is the definition of faith from Hebrews 11:1-3:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  Indeed, by faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is was made from things that are not visible.

New Revised Standard Version

In other words, faith applies in circumstances in which one can neither prove nor disprove a proposition according to scientific methods or documentary evidence.  That is an anachronistic definition, I know, but it works well.  Science can tell us much; I respect it and reject all anti-scientific sentiments and statements.  God gave us brains; may we use them as fully and critically as possible.  And documents form the basis of the study of history as I practice it.  Objective historical accuracy and the best scientific data available ought to override dogma, superstition, and bad theology.  So, no matter what the Gospels say, demon possession does not cause epilepsy, for example.  Yet there does exist truth which these twin standards of modernism (as opposed to postmodernism) cannot measure.  Such truth is good theology, which one can grasp by faith.

We read in Hebrews of the faithful example of Abram/Abraham (and by implication, of Sarai/Sarah), which harkens back to Genesis.  Theirs is a fantastical story, one which challenges understandings of biology.  But that is not the point.  The point is that God does unexpected things, and that the people of God should accept this reality.  And whether a certain unexpected thing is good news or bad news depends upon one’s spiritual state, as in Luke 12.

The reading from Isaiah 1 caught and held my attention most of all.  I, as an observant Episcopalian, am an unrepentant ritualist.  The text does not condemn ritualism itself.  No, the text damns insincere ritualism mixed with the neglect of vulnerable members of society:

Wash yourselves clean;

Put your evil things

Away from my sight.

Cease to do evil;

Learn to do good.

Devote yourselves to justice;

Aid the wronged.

Uphold the rights of the orphan;

Defend the cause of the widow.

–Isaiah 1:16-17, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Do it 0r else, the text says.  This is a call t0 society; Enlightenment notions of individualism do not apply here.  The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, called for

…a true revolution of values

from a society focused on things to one which places the priority on people.  In the same speech, the one in which he opposed the Vietnam War without equivocation, he said:

A nation that continues to spend year after year more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

A Testament of Hope:  The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.  (Edited by James M. Washington, 1986), page 241

The Prophet Isaiah would  have agreed.

Eternal God, heavenly Father,

you have graciously accepted us as living members

of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ,

and you have fed us with spiritual food

in the sacrament of his Body and Blood.

Send us now into the world in peace,

and grant us strength and courage

to love and serve you

with gladness and singleness of heart;

through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 365

Do we have the Abrahamic faith to do that?  And how much better will our societies be for all their members if we do?






Proper 11, Year C   Leave a comment


Above:  Convent at Mamre Near Hebron, Palestine (Abraham’s Oak), 1944

Image Source = Library of Congress

Divine Promises

The Sunday Closest to July 20

Ninth Sunday After Pentecost

JULY 17, 2016


The Assigned Readings:

Amos 8:1-12 and Psalm 52


Genesis 18:1-10a and Psalm 15


Colossians 1:15-28

Luke 10:38-42

The Collect:

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Proper 11, Year A:

Proper 11, Year B:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

Prayer of Confession:

Prayer of Dedication:

Amos 8:

Genesis 18:

Colossians 1:

Luke 10:


Divine promises turn our worlds upside-down and defy expectations.

Reconciliation, in Colossians 1, is related to justification, a legal concept.  So God is the judge, each of us is the accused, and Jesus is the defense attorney.  These are inexact metaphors, for

  1. Elsewhere in the New Testament the Holy Spirit is the defense attorney, and
  2. The judge is in cahoots with the defense attorney.

But there is more.  In Christ our estrangement from God ends.  And we have an avenue via Christ to end our estrangements from one another.  Why not?  If we love God, whom we cannot see, how then ought we to think about our fellow human beings, whom we can see?  This is a noble and high vocation, one attainable by grace.  And, if we strive yet fall short, God knows that we are but dust.

Such divine generosity requires an affirmative response.  St. Mary of Bethany understood this, as did Abraham and Sarah (although the latter needed a little time to grasp it) before her.  And one cannot respond affirmatively to God while exploiting people economically.  Although Colossians 1 contains a promise of deliverance from sins via God, Amos 8 tells us of doom because of the sin of economic exploitation.  The Law of Moses condemned such practices and mandated ways of helping the poor, yet some people manipulated it to make their exploitative deeds seem respectable and proper.

The Bible says more about money, greed, and economic exploitation than about sexual activities, yet many professing Christians are quicker to condemn aspects of the latter than of the former.  I have also noticed that condemnations of the latter tend to be more vocal and visible than those of the former.  If we who call ourselves Christians are to avoid rank hypocrisy, we ought to realize that many of us are invested in economic realities which place many others at an undue disadvantage.  We ought to ask God to help us see or blind spots.  We ought to be willing to confront the social structures which grant us advantages at the expense of others.  And we ought not to settle for condemning just (or primarily) the low-hanging fruit.  Then we will hear what God tells us because we will listen closely.  And something unexpected will be born to us via divine power and bring us closer to God, the main agent of bringing about this reconciliation and justification.







Proper 8, Year C   Leave a comment


Above:  An Arab Plowing (1898-1946)–See Luke 9:62

Image Source = Library of Congress

Servanthood in Christ

The Sunday Closest to June 29

Sixth Sunday After Pentecost

JUNE 26, 2016


The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14 and Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20


1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21 and Psalm 16


Galatians 5:1, 13-25

Luke 9:51-62

The Collect:

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Proper 8, Year A:

Proper 8, Year B:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

Prayer of Confession:

Prayer of Dedication:

2 Kings 2:

1 Kings 19:

Galatians 5:

Luke 9:


Jesus modeled servanthood, which, according to Galatians 5, is the proper use of Christian liberty.  Our Lord, as the author of the Gospel of Luke put it poetically, turned his face toward Jerusalem.  Jesus rejected excuses for not following the difficult path he proclaimed, the path which led to his crucifixion.  Following God can put one at risk, he said.  The examples of Elijah, once on the run from Queen Jezebel, and Elisha, whose path led to the fomentation of a palace coup, testified to the truth of that statement.

Do we think of our fellow human beings as people to serve or to exploit?  A barrage of news stories regarding skulduggery in very large banks reveals that some people prefer the latter option.  The manipulation of interest rates,  the foreclosing on homes without checking whether the homeowners have made payments recently and consistently, et cetera do not indicate an ethos of mutual servanthood.

In the Kingdom of God, Jesus said, the first will be last, the last will be first, and the servant of all will be the greatest.  Our worth flows from who we are and whose we are, not how much we have.  In the Kingdom of God he who dies with the most toys does not win and greed is not good.  The Kingdom of God turns power, wealth, and prestige on their heads.  It is properly subversive of the human-created socio-economic realities.  Why, then, do not more churches proclaim the kingdom?  Why do so many function as apologists for an exploitative system?








Proper 8, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  Statue of Reconciliation, St. Michael’s Cathedral, Coventry, England, United Kingdom

Image Source = Rebecca Kennison

Community, Beloved and Broken

The Sunday Closest to June 29

Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

JULY 1, 2018



2 Samuel 1:1, 7-27 (New Revised Standard Version):

After the death of Saul, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag.

David intoned this lamentation over Saul and his son Jonathan.  (He ordered that The Song of the Bow he taught to the people of Judah; it is written in the Book of Jashar.)  He said:

Your glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places!

How the mighty have fallen!

Tell it not in Gath,

proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon;

or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,

the daughters of the uncircumcised will exult.

You mountains of Gilboa,

let there be no dew or rain upon you,

nor bounteous fields!

For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,

the shield of Saul, anointed with oil no more.

From the blood of the slain,

from the fat of the mighty,

the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,

nor the sword of Saul return empty.

Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!

In life and in death they were not divided;

they were swifter than eagles,

they were stronger than lions.

O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,

who clothed you with crimson, in luxury,

who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.

How the mighty have fallen

in the midst of the battle!

Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.

I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;

greatly beloved were you to me;

your love to me was wonderful,

passing the love of women.

How the mighty have fallen,

and the weapons of war perished!

Psalm 130 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  Out of the depths have I called to you, O LORD;

LORD, hear my voice;

let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.

2  If you , LORD, were to note what is done amiss,

O Lord, who could stand?

3  For there is forgiveness with you;

therefore you shall be feared.

4  I wait for the LORD; my soul waits for him;

in his word is my hope.

5  My soul waits for the LORD,

more than watchmen in the morning,

more than watchmen in the morning.

6  O Israel, wait for the LORD,

for with the LORD there is mercy;

7  With him there is plenteous redemption,

and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.


Wisdom of Solomon 1:12-15; 2:23-24 (New Revised Standard Version):

Do not invite death by the error of your life,

or bring on destruction by the works of your hands;

because God did not make death,

and he does not delight in the death of the living.

For he created all things that they might exist;

the generative forces of the world are wholesome,

and there is no destructive poison in them,

and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.

For forgiveness is immortal.

…for God created us for incorruption,

and made us in the image of his own eternity.

but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,

and those who belong to his company experience it.

Response, Option #2A:  Lamentations 3:21-33 (New Revised Standard Version):

But this I call to mind,

and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.”

The LORD is good to those who wait for him,

to the soul that seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly

for the salvation of the LORD.

It is good for one to bear

the yoke in youth,

to sit alone in silence

when the Lord has imposed it,

to put one’s mouth to the dust

(there may yet be hope),

to give one’s cheek to the smiter,

and be filled with insults.

For the Lord will not

reject forever.

Although he causes grief, he will have compassion

according to the abundance of his steadfast love;

for he does not willingly afflict

or grieve anyone.

Response:  Option #2B:  Psalm 30 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

 I will exalt you, O LORD,

because you have lifted me up

and have not let my enemies triumph over me.

 O LORD my God, I cried out to you,

and you restored me to health.

 You brought me up, O LORD, from the dead;

you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.

 Sing to the LORD, you servants of his;

give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.

 For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye,

his favor for a lifetime.

6 Weeping may spend the night,

but joy comes in the morning.

 While I felt secure, I said,

“I shall never be disturbed.

You,  LORD, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains.”

 Then you hid my face,

and I was filled with terror.

 I cried to you, O LORD;

I pleaded with the LORD, saying,

10  “What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit?

will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?

11  Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me;

O LORD, be my helper.”

12  You have turned my wailing into dancing;

you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.

13  Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing;

O LORD my God, I will give you thanks for ever.


2 Corinthians 8:7-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

As you excel in everything– in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you– so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.

I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something– now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has– not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written,

The one who had much did not have too much,

and the one who had little had too little.


Mark 5:21-43 (New Revised Standard Version):

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly,

My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.

He went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said,

If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.

Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said,

Who touched my clothes?

And his disciples said to him,

You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?”

He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her,

Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say,

Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?

But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue,

Do not fear, only believe.

He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them,

Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.

And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her,

Talitha cum,

which means,

Little girl, get up!

And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

The Collect:

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Proper 8, Year A:

Proper 8, Year B:

2 Samuel 1:

Wisdom of Solomon 1-2:

Mark 5:


O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John:

New Every Morning is the Love:

A Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi:

A Franciscan Blessing:

Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life:

A Prayer for Shalom:

On a ______:


We are social creatures–some more so than others.  But we are all social creatures.  This fact helps explain why solitary confinement is such a strong punishment.  Furthermore, empathy helps bind us to each other.  It is to empathy that Paul appeals in 2 Corinthians 8:7-15.  Nobody should have too much or too little, he wrote; there should be a “fair balance” between the abundance of one and the needs of another.

In other words, we ought to take care of each other.  Corporations with enough cash on hand to spend millions or billions or dollars to purchase patents for things they did not invent for the purpose of either suing other corporations for patent infringement or intimidating other corporations from suing them for patent infringement have enough cash on hand to hire actual human beings.  There is an imbalance between abundance and needs.  As Martin Luther King, Jr., said on April 4, 1967, people should matter more than things and other forms of wealth.  To value property more highly than people is to have an inverse moral order.

We read of Jesus healing a woman with a persistent hemorrhage.  This condition had afflicted her for twelve years, during which she could not earn money and she was ritually unclean.  Therefore she was marginal in her community.  But now she was once again whole.

The woman had to deal with stigma over a physical problem.  David had another difficulty:  an estranged father-in-law who wanted him dead and against whom he was leading a rebellion.  Despite these facts, David had spared Saul’s life when he had the chance to take it.  And David mourned both Saul and Jonathan, his brother-in-law and best friend, who had died recently.  He referred to both of them as “beloved and cherished.”

We should grieve when relationships break, and we ought to mourn the fact that there is no way to repair some interpersonal ruptures due to realities such as death.  We should also be discontented when unjust economic disparities persist.  What can we do about it, whether in a family, community, county, state, national, or international level.  Alone we might not be able to do anything, but what can we accomplish collectively?  That is a question with an answer worth finding.  For, as the author of the Wisdom of Solomon reminds us,

God created us for incorruption,

and made us in the image of his own eternity.


Published in a nearly identical form at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on August 20, 2011

Feast of Milner Ball (April 6)   Leave a comment

Image Source = University of Georgia Law School Tribute Page

(Link located in this post)


Presbyterian Minister, Law Professor, Witness for Civil Rights, Humanitarian

From time to time one finds one’s self in the company of greatness.  The greatest of people are those who improve the lives of others, often facing scorn for part or much of their efforts.  Years and decades later, admirers speak of how courageous these great people were, but such high praise was scarce at the time.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1936, and educated in Georgia and Tennessee public schools, Milner Ball earned his A.B. degree from Princeton University and his Master of Divinity from Harvard University.  A man possessed of a keen intellect and deep Christian faith, he studied with Karl Barth and became a Presbyterian minister.  Lifelong concerns for social justice led Ball to support causes usually described as liberal.  In the 1960s, for example he was openly pro-civil rights.  After a stint as pastor in Manchester, Tennessee, he became the Presbyterian campus minister at The University of Georgia (UGA).  There his demonstrated belief in racial equality aroused much opposition at the recently (1962) integrated campus.  The last straw, however, came when Ball became a delegate to the 1968 Democratic National Convention, but not as a member of the Lester Maddox-approved delegation.  Ball, joined the Julian Bond-led delegation instead.

Ball, fired from his position, entered law school and commenced a career of public service via the law.  Graduating first in his class from the UGA Law School, Ball served as former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk’s representative to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1971 and 1972.  Then he taught law at Rutgers University from 1972 to 1978 before returning to UGA as a law professor.  He retired in 2006.

A prolific scholar, Ball wrote many law review articles and four books:  The Promise of American Law:  A Theological, Humanistic View of Legal Process (1981), Lying Down Together:  Law, Metaphor, and Theology (1985), The Word and the Law (1993), and Called by Stories:  Biblical Sagas and Their Challenge for Law (2000).  A specialist in environmental law, tribal law, constitutional law, and the intersection of theology and law, Ball challenged his students and readers to improve the lives of the less fortunate and to work for justice.  Law, he wrote, ought to be a force which transfigures society and builds up human community.

Ball’s work extended far beyond Athens, Georgia.  He taught overseas (in Argentina, France, Belgium, England, and Iceland) over the years and served as a judge on the International People’s Tribunal in Hawaii (1993).  Ball was also a member of the Theological Anthropology Project at the Center of Theological Inquiry at Princeton University.  And his influence continues through the careers of his law students.

Locally in Athens, Ball was instrumental in the Athens Justice Project, which, in the words of its website, “assists low income individuals with pending criminal charges in achieving a fair legal outcome and in becoming productive, law-abiding community members.”  Such work, truly a living memorial to Ball’s commitment to social justice, reflects his active belief in helping the disadvantaged and building up human community.  The Athens Justice Project was just one of Ball’s many community-building activities, with others including a soup kitchen and a homeless shelter.

Ball received many civil rights and public service honors.  It is appropriate then that the Working in the Public Interest (WIPI) Law Conference established the Milner S. Ball Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Our love for our neighbors, Jesus said, must be active.  The obligation to love our neighbors as ourselves requires us to reach out to those who need the assistance we can offer.  Following our Lord in this way will cause us to cross lines some of our neighbors consider improper, for we human beings cling to social injustices which benefit us, if only psychologically.  But crossing these lines is part of God’s mandate upon our lives.  Jesus disregarded such barriers, as the canonical Gospels record.  He was (and is) the Master; a servant is not above his or her master.

Milner Ball followed his master faithfully.  He and I participated in the life of the same parish, crossing paths.  Knowing him, even casually, was a great honor.





For More Information:

UGA Law School Tribute Page


A collect and the readings for a Renewer of Society, according to Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the hymnal and worship book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.  Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.  Help us, like your servant Milner Ball, to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36