No one can turn faster on you than a sixth grade clique. One day a classmate is popular, the next day ostracized. Her offense was inviting the new girl in school to sit with them at lunch. One moment of kindness, and the crowd turns. She now walks the school halls alone, hearing whispers on one side while feeling sharp stares from the other. This scenario repeats itself day in and day out, in every school. It happened when I was growing up, when my girls were in school, and now—over and over.
I have a friend who remembers being picked on in middle school for standing up for another. Her mother encouraged her to be strong and secure in her worth as a beloved child of God. This wise woman also explained that by taking on the stares, the unkind remarks, and the ostracism, she was actually protecting the next girl—any other girl—who would have been the target of their fury. It was the crowd mentality reacting out of fear and insecurity in the presence of truth and goodness.
This fallen human nature repeats itself, not just with “Mean Girls,” but everywhere in society: politics, Hollywood, the workplace—everywhere. One moment we’re praised, and the next rejected. A politician’s words go down like honey when speaking what the crowd desires to hear. But the minute—the second—he or she speaks truth—the call to sacrifice, self-control, and selflessness—the crowd turns on a dime to the next candidate. Fans swoon over a handsome actor until the moment he takes an unpopular stand and then they turn their adoration to the next pretty face.
Jesus fully understands fallen human nature and begins His public ministry confronting this harsh reality. When He steps forward they are at first “amazed” by His “gracious” words, but the minute He speaks an uncomfortable truth, they turn against Him. Jesus, the Messiah? The Messiah from Nazareth? Impossible. And the fury begins. Furious in the face of truth, they drive Him to the edge. But He passes through their midst as Truth cannot be destroyed.
As parents/grandparents, we name grace by raising our children to be compassionate, loving, inclusive, merciful, and truthful. We name grace by reminding our children they were formed in the womb by God and loved for eternity. We name grace by preparing our children to be prophets in their own hometowns/schools/activities: including the outsider, standing up for what is right, speaking up for their faith, and loving others in the face of fury. We name grace by gifting our children with the assurance that, with Jesus, they will safely pass through the difficult times of life.
All Christians are called to stand for their faith, whether sixty or a sixth grader. When prophetic in our own spheres of influence—speaking up for the poor, the disabled, the homeless, the unborn, the lonely—we must be prepared for whispers and stares. No one—much less Jesus—ever said faithfulness would be easy. But with the Spirit of the Lord is upon us, we can trust that LOVE, which never fails, will pass us through the maddening crowd. Now, that’s good news!
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.