Homily: I want the world to be wrapped in the cloak of justice

IMG_0231Homily by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann at Day House Catholic Worker
Second Sunday of Advent

Baruch 5:1-9
Psalm 126

My Advent has started out differently than I planned.

As I think most of you know, my dad was taken into custody for a 12-day sentence when he refused to pay a fine for an action he was part of (along with Tom Lumpkin) with the Poor People’s Campaign on May 21. They blockaded the doors of the Department of Health and Human Services in Lansing calling out the systemic racism and abuse of the poor by the very department that is supposed to support the needs of the poor. The director of DHHS is currently facing charges of manslaughter for his role in the Flint Water Crisis. And we recently learned that Child Protective Services has started following the Homrich trucks in certain neighborhoods in order to immediately remove children from their families when their water is shut off. To cry out against this injustice, Tommy Tackett and my dad have gone to jail.

When I got the news that he was taken into custody, my brain jumped into organizing, press conferences, and vigils. It has been a week of conference calls and emails.

My body jumped into anxieties and fears carrying constant headaches and exhaustion- some of the worries about his medications and pain, and others than don’t quite make sense to me for a short jail sentence.

And my heart has simply tried to play catch up, trying to remind me to slow down. I’ve been writing something every day and that has helped. I went up into the attic and pulled out a picture book my mom cut and pasted called “Where’s Daddy?” for the Advent when I was 2 and my dad was in jail for 30 days. I have spent time remembering the vigils at Williams International on most Advent Mondays of my childhood. I have tried to be there for my kids’ hearts when my own is so shaken.

I am so aware of what a small time away this is. It is a constant reminder for me of how many families do this for years as we have become a nation of mass incarceration.

For my dad, there is no better place for him to honor this Advent season. He feels the days slow down, he writes, he prays, he awaits the person with the key to open the locked door. Yet I struggle to find such peace.

I hear these beautiful words in Baruch- “take off your robe of mourning and misery… be wrapped in the cloak of justice.”

Yet, I listen to the news and I could weep! These words seem such folly in these times of real mourning and misery at every turn. Yet we read them anyway. We pray them anyway. It becomes a prayer…a cry…

So, I pray
For the child in Mexico,
Who has walked hundreds of miles at her mother’s side,
Only to met with fear and tear gas
And no place of safety or welcome.

May she take off the robe of mourning and misery and be wrapped in the cloak of justice.

I pray
For the black mothers who have buried their sons
after being murdered by police
and for all black mothers who send
their boys out the door each morning
despite the fear and systemic terror.

May they take off the robe of mourning and misery and be wrapped in the cloak of justice.

I pray
For all the children hiding in corners of classrooms
Keeping quiet as their hearts pound
Trying to fathom what their teachers means
When she says “we are practicing in case
There is a stranger with a gun.”

May they take off the robe of mourning and misery and be wrapped in the cloak of justice.

I pray
For the old woman who fled the fire
Whose home is washed away by heat and flood
And whose friends weren’t fast enough
To escape the flames.

May she take off the robe of mourning and misery and be wrapped in the cloak of justice.

I pray
For the children who live with lead in their veins
Who cannot trust water as gift,
Who learned from a young age
That profit is more important than their brains and lives.

May they take off the robe of mourning and misery and be wrapped in the cloak of justice.

I pray
For the men, women, and children in Yemen
Whose hunger shows on their bodies,
Who have been left to violence and death
at the hands of war.

May they take off the robe of mourning and misery and be wrapped in the cloak of justice.

I pray
For the ice caps as they melt into the ocean,
For hurricanes rising in strength
For ancient depths violated with fracking and pipelines,
For waters poisoned, for the heat of droughts
For fires and snow and storms and floods

May the earth take off the robe of mourning and misery and be wrapped in the cloak of justice.

I pray
For all those who suffer the powers and principalities of beaurocracy
At the hands of the Department of Health and Human Services.
For the endless lines and lost applications,
For the tiresome work and lack of humanity,
For Child Protective Services following Homrich trucks
Tearing children from their family as their water is shut off.

May they take off the robe of mourning and misery and be wrapped in the cloak of justice.

These feel like impossible dreams, foolish prayers to even utter aloud.

But the psalm say that this is the season
When we are to be like a humanity dreaming,
To wake with our mouths filled with laughter.

We are summoned to such sacred imagination,
Such wild yearnings and loving demands.
It is the kind of dangerous hope
That could cause us to open our doors,
To turn stranger to friend,
To move into a Catholic Worker
and begin community again.

It is the kind of dangerous hope
That could land one in jail,
That keeps us lighting candles
And listening in the dark.

So we hope and so we sing
And so we pray.
Amen.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Homily: I want the world to be wrapped in the cloak of justice

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