Marginalizing the marginalized in our midst.

It’s not often that a homily (sermon to many) provides direct inspiration for a blog post.  Today happens to be one of those times.  For those who are interested the readings for this week were: Amos 7:7–17, Colossians 1:1–14 and Luke 10:25-37.  The reading from Luke is the famous Parable of the Good Samaritan and it was in the discussion of this parable that the homily struck a nerve.  Unfortunately I did not get a chance to address my concerns directly with the person who gave the homily following the service.  In part, this was because I was still processing my own reactions to it.

The discussion started off well with a discussion of just how outrageous it would have been that a Samaritan (aka one of THOSE people) was the one who acted as a neighbour to the person who was attacked by robbers.  So far, fairly standard homily topic on this reading.  The preacher then went on to discuss how the Samaritan was marginalized and then connected the message with modern experiences.  This is where it fell down.

The intended message from the preacher was that Christians can and should be learning from those who are marginalized.  This is a message that I fully agree with.  Sadly, this wasn’t the message that ended up staying with me following the homily.

In talking about “the marginalized” the preacher provided a prime example of what can happen when someone from a privileged group talks to people in their community about those who are marginalized and face oppression.  They preached in a way that told the congregation that marginalized people are “out there” and not within the congregation.  Had I been new to this church I may have taken this homily to mean that only those who are not marginalized belong in the church.

In addition this feels like a continuation of the message that is often heard from those in privileged positions who want to help those who are marginalized that help is on the terms of those in a position of privilege and that even though help is offered, those who are marginalized are not welcome in to the community.   Christianity comes across as being an exclusive club for those with privilege.

Now, one might ask why I am writing about this in a blog post and not taking it up privately with the person who gave the homily.  This is a fair question.  The reason why I am writing about it is because if I were only to address this privately it would continue to perpetuate the marginalization.  How often are those who are marginalized and oppressed told to just be quiet and not rock the boat?  Just bring it up quietly and it won’t happen again.  The problem is that it does happen again.  Therefore, I am not being quiet about it.  I’m calling it out and hopefully people who are discussing these topics will think about what they are saying a little bit more carefully.  Maybe those who are in our midst who are marginalized won’t be further marginalized.

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