by Sung Yeon Choimorrow
Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.
Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed. (John 18:15-18, 25-27, NRSV)
Denial of Christ can come in so many ways in our contemporary age. For me the biggest form of denial of Christ is denying our fellow humans basic rights to a dignified life. If we remember back during Christ’s ministry, Christ calls us to “love our neighbors as ourselves” (Mark 12:31). If we love ourselves by having basic needs met and even enjoying a few luxuries, how are we loving our neighbors when they are suffering disrespect, ill health and living in poverty?
Oftentimes we can get caught up in a just cause that’s focused on an issue that we’ve been most impacted by or that we see impacts people dramatically. However, I want to encourage us to see the connections between issues to understand the true devastating impact of injustice on our neighbors, particularly those who have little to no means of living. More than half of the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 a day. And these are the folks who are also most impacted by our environmental issues such as lack of water or constant flooding due to global climate change. These are the people who are most likely being trafficked into slavery and working under dangerous, even fatal working conditions.
When we think about our world and how vast the issues are, I encourage us to remember that we have friends in the social justice movement and that when we band together, we are stronger. At the end of the day, we are all working towards the same hope; that people can live in dignity in a sustainable earth. It is my prayer that we continue to work together across issues to lift up and fight for solutions that protect the more vulnerable.
Prayer: Lord of grace and mercy, we are reminded of ways that we’ve denied you. Even as we work towards justice and hope, there are times we have failed to love our neighbors as ourselves. We pray for mercy and wisdom, that as we continue to journey with you towards justice and hope, that we may live our lives justly to treat all people with dignity and treat our earth with care. Amen.
Rev. Sung Yeon Choimorrow is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Interfaith Worker Justice where she is committed to educating and organizing workers and the faith community across the United States for economic justice and safe and dignified working conditions for all workers. She is also a member of the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s Advisory Committee. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Joseph and their daughter, Ella.