In anticipation of the release of Justice Calls (you can pre-order it here), I’m sharing an excerpt a day. Today’s is from Sandhya Rani Jha, author of Pre-Post Racial America and Director of the Oakland Peace Center in Oakland, California.
Rubin “Hurricane” Carter passed away last week. You may know him from either the movie or the Bob Dylan song about his life, or you may even remember his boxing career. He was arrested and jailed for a crime he didn’t commit. He was black in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he fought until he was released. While in prison, he wouldn’t wear the uniform, eat the food, or do the prison work. He knew he was not a prisoner and he refused to let them make him one.
Which made me think about today’s Scripture passage about forgiveness. While I’ve always read this passage as Jesus placing yet another burden on us, another impossible standard to meet, is it possible Jesus was trying to make our lives on the margins easier? Was this Jesus’ last act of mercy before ascending into heaven? Was he perhaps telling us not “it will be harder to be you; deal with it,” but was he actually telling us, “You do not have to be prisoners?” Perhaps Jesus was actually giving to his beloved and faithful disciples power over the one thing they would always have control over—their attitudes toward others. No matter the suffering they would endure for remaining faithful, no one could make them prisoners if they knew they had the power to forgive and chose to use it. After all, there is liberation in forgiveness. It is a key to get out of the prison we have built for ourselves, a prison with walls of bitterness and bars of hatred . . .