Today's reading at Terce (Morning Tea) is from the Apocrypha. These are books that made it into the Roman Catholic Bible but not most of ours. When I learned there was MORE.... I rejoiced. Having now read some of them, there are times I want to kick whoever was responsible for leaving them out. The fact the Apocrypha is available to us now is a blessing.
New Zealand is a melting pot, with ancestry so mixed that you wouldn't think prejudice or racism could exist. I am a 7th generation Kiwi and like many families who have been here that long, I have some distant Maori ancestry. I have the unique privilege of having experienced racism from both sides. This is naturally not the only prejudice I have experienced, I also have experienced prejudice for my being a Christian, this is rare in New Zealand, guess I am just blessed.
The book of Wisdom, we read from today, tells some of the anatomy of prejudice, its root causes – pride and fear, a hugely powerful combination.
People often fear what they do not understand, or worse still look upon those with a different culture or way of life as inferior and their own as superior. That is an evil form of pride, which engenders racism, in extreme forms it has lead to genocide.
Jesus experienced the type of prejudice talked about in the book of Wisdom – he was a righteous man – really the only one. In Jesus time racism abounded. The Jews considered the half-cast Samaritans unclean and detested them, so how do you think they viewed the Gentiles who had no Jewish blood at all? They wouldn't eat with them, enter there homes or associate with them as friends.
Jesus spoke out against prejudice with parable of the Good Samaritan. He made a point of personally going to the Samaritans and giving them the good news. On the Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came, it was a multi-cultural experience. All hearing their own languages spoken by the newly spirit-filled apostles, and all different nationalities being saved, but Jesus still had to deal with his Jewish disciples prejudice – so he sent Peter a vision (tonight's Compline Reading). No one wanted to argue with the big fisherman or Jesus – he said the prejudice stops – it stops! What God declares clean is clean, Jesus has made it absolutely clear – racism is NOT acceptable to him in any form. Love your friends, love your neighbours and love your enemies – what nationality or ethnicity does that leave out?