Story on pg. 129-130
“Junior is a man in his forties who sits outside his second story window and yells ‘I love you G-Dog’ to Father Boyle everyday he walks by. One day he did not hear Junior as he walked underneath his apartment. It wasn’t until he was far off that he heard the familiar voice yelling to him. Father Boyle went back and thanked Junior for his welcome. Junior responded that it was no problem, Father Boyle was in his jurisdiction.”
We are called to be Junior’s for the world; to open up our jurisdiction. To yell at people at the top of our Lungs, “I LOVE YOU!” Instead of picking and choosing whom to welcome into our sphere of acceptance, instead of picking out the best and brightest. We are called to invite all to people to become a part of this jurisdiction. While reading this book it would be easy to say that some of these gang members have done some awful things in their lives, they do not deserve to experience God’s love. They do not belong in our jurisdiction. It would be easy to put up a wall and judge them as “those people.”
One of the biggest problems with gangs, Boyle says, is that they do not see each other residing in the same jurisdiction. They do not see each other as people who God loves. They see one another as “the guys who hate those guys.” Not only is there no relationship building that takes place, but they seem to see one another as less than human. There is no willingness to expand their view of jurisdiction to include anyone other than their own friends. But, as our gospel text says we are called to open up our jurisdiction.
Our gospel text this morning speaks to that. Our text does not tell us to leave our enemies alone, or don’t harass our enemies, or even to hope them well, our gospel text tells us to LOVE our enemies. This is not something that comes naturally; this is not something we can do on our own. Think about this for a moment…there is a reason that people are our enemies. They have caused us harm in awful ways. Your enemy has terribly wronged you, but Jesus says that we are called to Love our enemies. We are called to really open up our jurisdiction now. We are called not just to include the outcast, the oppressed, and the stranger within our sphere of love, but our enemy.
Boyle says he is often asked what it is like to have enemies working together. He says it is always tense at first. A homie will say that he will work with this enemy or that enemy, but he wont talk to him. Boyle says he was disheartened when he heard this, but he soon realized that it is impossible to demonize someone you know.
When we widen our jurisdiction, we realize that there are many things that unite us. Boyle shares a story in this chapter about two enemy gang members who he brought on a speaking engagement. He says they did not talk to each other for the first part of the trip. There was this awkward silence whenever Boyle tried to make conversation between the three of them. It wasn’t until they were able to laugh about silly joke with one another that their walls toward one another were torn down and their jurisdiction widened.
Story pg. 134-136
“Chepe and Richie, two former gang members, went with Father Boyle on a speaking engagement. They stopped at a restaurant along the way. When the arrived the hostess treated them very coldly and was hesitant to even let them dine there. As they were being placed in the bowels of the restaurant (away from everyone else), the people eating there stopped what they were doing at stared at them. Just when Chepe and Richie feel they are certainly not welcome there, the waitress treats them like they are somebody. She calls them ‘honey’ and ‘dear’ and gives them refills without even asking. She was certainly Jesus in an apron for these two young men.”
We too are called to be Jesus in an apron to all that we meet. We have an opportunity to break down barriers when we treat everyone like they are somebody. When we allow people into our jurisdiction they take notice as Chepe and Richie did. That waitress was firme. She treated them differently than they were used to being treated. She showed them a love that was transformational to Chepe and Richie. The hostess and people who gawked at them as they entered the restaurant was more in line with their life experiences. They were looked at as outsiders, as people who did not belong even in this restaurant. They were seated in the bowels of the restaurant so they would be out of the jurisdiction of anyone who is eating there. The waitress allowed Chepe and Richie onto her turf. She allowed them to experience a love that was foreign to them. She did what the hostess and many of the people at the restaurant did not do. She closed her eyes of judgment and exclusion and opened her heart to a new, expansive place of love and acceptance. She allowed Chepe and Richie to experience a little bit of heaven on earth.
May we find ourselves in an expansive place of never ending love and acceptance. May we stumble into a place of inclusion that brings us into God’s own jurisdiction. May we yell “I LOVE YOU” at the top of our lungs to everyone who enters that place of love. Amen