When we love one another, when we do justice for our neighbors, when we care for the poor and oppressed, when we feed the hungry, when we give drink to the thirsty, when we clothe the naked, when we visit the prisoner, and when we welcome the stranger; we participate fully in the resurrection of the love and justice of Jesus.
When we hate one another, when we commit injustice against others, when we oppress the poor and vulnerable, when we ignore the naked, hungry, the thirsty, the prisoner, and the stranger; we participate in the hate, violence, and injustice that executed Jesus and has brought suffering and death to so many through the ages.
The continued resurrection of the way of Jesus is empowered by the people who continue to live out the way of love and justice in this world, while the ways of death are perpetuated by those who seek their own power and prestige to the detriment and destruction of the most vulnerable among us.
Our lives provide us with a choice of whether we will side with the ongoing resurrection of life, love, and justice in this world or become complicit in the ways of hate, fear, violence, injustice, and death. Those who have chosen the latter keep trying to kill the way of love and justice in this world, but it won’t go away because it is alive in the resurrected Beloved Community that keeps seeking ways to overcome the ways of death in this world.
Even if we lose our lives in the struggle for love and justice like Jesus did and like John the Baptizer did before him and like many others throughout human history have, our lives and work will be taken up and will continue to live in the Beloved Community of all who seek love and justice for all of our neighbors. Perhaps this is what is meant by the communion of the saints. All of the love and justice that has been brought into the world by all people from all times and places will forever be a part of the world and continue to urge it on towards a more Beloved Community.
In times that are dark and full of fear, hatred, and violence; it is important to remember that the forces of evil in days, years, and centuries past often thought they had the last word, only to see that love and justice have a way of not being fully overcome by the darkness and continuing to live on.
In Jesus’ time, King Herod thought Jesus was John the Baptizer resurrected whom Herod imprisoned for speaking truth to power and whom Herod beheaded so as not lose face with those whom he considered more important than John. I think Herod was more right than wrong in his assessment that Jesus was the John the Baptizer resurrected. All that John the Baptizer had done to prepare the way for Jesus through John’s radical message of love, justice, and repentance led to Jesus being baptized by John. All of John’s work and love was fully present and fully alive in Jesus even after John was killed. Like John, when Jesus spoke truth to power, he was also arrested and executed. In a very real way, all of the love and justice that Jesus lived, practiced, and taught as he prepared the way for those to follow is resurrected, fully present, and fully alive in the Beloved Community working for love and justice in our world today. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (John 1:5), and the darkness will not overcome it.