Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Saints' Last Asylum

 
A small sampling of rosary beads ICE has stolen from those who
come to the U.S. border seeking safety from dangerous situations.

Save me, O God, by your Name, and vindicate me by your might.
Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.
For the insolent have risen against me, the ruthless seek my life; they do not set God before them.
—Psalm 54:1-3

Psalm 54 was written at a time when David had been betrayed by one he trusted. In his case, the betrayal might have resulted in death. In most of our cases, the danger is more emotional and spiritual, the destruction being the destruction of trust. Regarding the first part of this psalm, Calvin's viewpoint is traditional, but I like the way he says what he does:

Though all help must ultimately come from God, there are ordinary methods by which he generally extends it. When these fail, and every earthly stay is removed, he must then take the work into his own hands. It was in such a situation that David here fled to the saints’ last asylum, and sought to be saved by a miracle of divine power. 

There are really no ordinary methods by which trust can be restored after the betrayal of a friend. For such help, we, too, must flee to the saints' last asylum... a miracle of divine power.

This psalm has broader implications, too. It's really not stretching it at all to see it in international terms. Imagine a nation that has an inscription that reads, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," a nation that claims to be a beacon of liberty for all the world. Now imagine a young mother bringing her children to such a nation to ask for the freedom advertised. Having been enticed by the friendship promised on the sign at the door, she has her children ripped from her arms and put in cages, while she is hauled away to a different internment camp.
Like all people, I have been betrayed by those I thought were my friends. But nothing of this magnitude. David knew and the refugee knows what betrayal really is. The righteous will always be the earthly stay Calvin refers to above. The rule of law is another earthly stay in a society supposedly built on it. But these, apparently, are easily removed. While outsiders have no choice but to pray that they be saved by a miracle of divine power, the U.S. citizen's only recourse to prayer in this situation is the prayer of repentance. When I am the very solution I am praying for, then I must continue to work for justice, even while the immigrant prays for a miracle.

Make me, O God, the miracle one of your little ones needs; in Jesus' Name. Amen.

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