It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles . . . Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.
(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Matthew 15:11,17-20 – June 9, 2012)
I try really hard not politicize these meditations, but I cannot help but think of the political rancor in our country during this election season, particularly the signs that have been paraded at so-called “tea party” rallies by persons who self-identify as “Christians” or more particularly as members of the “Christian Right”. There’s been plenty on the Left, as well, but it is from the Right that the most vile “hate speech” is heard. Just yesterday I saw a news item that Terry Jones, the pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, the same fellow who threatened to burn a Qur’an several months ago, has now hung an effigy of President Obama on a gallows in front of his church. How can someone who presents himself as a Christian pastor do that? Especially in light of these words from Jesus? Especially in light of the words from Paul which are also in today’s Daily Office reading: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28) One hastens to point out to “Pastor” Jones that President Obama (despite the rantings of the far Right and no matter how one may feel about his politics) is a baptized Christian, a brother in the Lord, a fellow member of the church universal. How on earth can this man do this? ~ A couple of days ago some members of my parish and I were talking about the festival held each spring in an Ohio village near our town. It celebrates something like the return of the swallows to San Juan Capistrano in California, only in this case it is the return of the turkey vultures to Hinckley, Ohio. (You read that correctly . . . turkey vultures.) For some reason I once learned that turkey vultures (and other types of buzzard) defend themselves through the use of projectile vomiting. It occurs to me on reading this text from Matthew and considering our political discourse (especially antics like these of “Pastor” Jones) in its light, that the projectile-vomiting turkey vulture just might be the mascot of present-day American politics. May God have mercy!