Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

May 17, 2020: A Vision of God’s Love

From Sandra Rooney

These are challenging days, when knowing what’s right isn’t easy. Leaders – political and religious, local and national, as well as global – often present conflicting guidelines for our living. Sometimes we may feel ourselves called to act in ways that go counter to what is expected or considered acceptable.

U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the democratic socialist from the Bronx, has found herself in such situations since her upset victory, beating her 10-term opponent in 2018. Today, Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, has the grim distinction of representing the nation’s most devastated hot zone in the coronavirus outbreak. Her district, which includes working-class immigrant clusters in the Bronx and Queens, has had more coronavirus cases, as of April 30, than all of Manhattan, despite having almost a million fewer people. Ocasio-Cortez knows personally many of those who have died, as well as others who have become sick or have been left without jobs and are hungry. When she visits her district, you may well find her in her campaign headquarters surrounded by bags of donated food she is preparing to deliver to families in her district.

Ocasio-Cortez has seen how this crisis has brought existing problems such as inadequate health care and income inequality into stark relief. It’s not creating new problems but is like “pouring gasoline on our existing ones,” she said. In response, she found herself the only Democrat to vote against the $484 billion package that Congress recent passed overwhelmingly. She said she had many problems with the measure, in particular the fact that it was far too generous to corporations and not to local governments, small businesses, and people struggling to buy food or pay rent.

While some of her colleagues indicated they shared her reservations, when push came to shove, she was the lone negative vote. “Our brains are just designed to experience a lot of excruciating pain at the idea of being alone,” she said. “When you cast those lonely votes, you feel like your colleagues respect you less, and that you are choosing to marginalize yourself.” She feels they are judging her without really getting to know her.

For the most part, Ocasio-Cortez’ colleagues are father removed from the virus’s daily toll, which has heightened the sense of alienation she has felt since arriving on Capitol Hill last year. Nearly everyone in her district has some personal connection to someone lost to the virus. It is not the same for many other members of Congress, who have not seen the overrun emergency rooms and refrigerator trucks doubling as makeshift morgues that are only a few miles from her home. She is called to live out her convictions, but at a high cost.

Explore…John 14:15-21

  • What does it mean to obey Jesus’ commandant? What are the marks of living that way?
  • When have you felt yourself swimming upstream against the current of society’s expectations?
  • Where do you find strength in such situations?
  • What are the challenges of today’s unique circumstances? What might you or your faith community do?

Prayer…
Spirit of love, compassion, and justice,
be with us as we face the challenges of these days.
Draw us into the circle of those
who share the desire to live as Jesus taught.
Strengthen our resolve
and embolden us to speak truth to power.
Amen.

Learn more…
For A.O.C., “Existential Crisis” as her district becomes coronavirus epicenter

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