Isaiah 5:1-7/ Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19/ Luke 12:49-56
Make Noise For Justice
“Loud” Attorney and Struggles for Justice
There is a Korean drama on Netflix that everyone is watching these days. It’s called Extraordinary Attorney Woo Young Woo. It’s about an autistic lawyer who is obsessed with whales. This show is filled with heartwarming stories plus comedy and romance. Young Woo works for a big law firm and most of her clients are economically privileged people, which sometimes causes her to suffer moral dilemmas. In one episode, she meets the kind of lawyer that she has never met before; a human rights lawyer who is known for being “loud”. In the wrongful termination lawsuit, Young Woo’s firm represents the corporation and the “loud” lawyer represents the women who were driven to resign by a sneaky and subtle sexist policy. This lawyer and the women protest in front of the courthouse and the corporation’s office.
She is loud because she fights for justice. The road to peace and justice is not peaceful and quiet because those who hold power and those who let themselves get used to the status quo object to what they perceive as a rebellion and disturbance of the world order. Those with power want to use their power to oppress the voices of justice as well as to oppress the marginalized.
That is why, in South Korea, conservative Christians show up at the Queer Festival to protest, to spread homophobia. That is why, when Rev. Lee from the Korean Methodist Church got suspended for offering a blessing at the Queer Festival, his supporters protested and made noise. We have to make noise protesting because the society and those who hold power won’t listen to quiet and docile voices. Of course, the chances are, they still won’t listen to the angry loud voice either, but oh well, we’ve got to try, haven’t we?
Jesus Came to Bring Fire and Division
We read such a dark and hot (as in high temperature) gospel story for a beautiful summer day. Jesus claims that he came to bring fire and division. He also teaches that we should be able to interpret the present time, as we can predict rain from a rising cloud. Consider the noise that is necessary in fighting for justice.
When activists make noise in their works for justice, others might say that they are being noisy and disturb the peace of the society. Well, listen to Jesus! He came to bring fire and division! His life’s mission was to proclaim a subversive world order that he called the reign (or kingdom) of God. His work caused a huge uproar from those who held power, both the Jewish leaders and the Roman Empire. The road to peace and justice is not peaceful and quiet because powerful people don’t like it and will try to stop it. That is why we use the word “fight” to describe the works of justice.
God’s Rant for Justice
We heard another rant of God’s in the Book of Isaiah. God planted the people of Israel like vines. God expected the vines to prosper and yield a lot of healthy grapes. God expected justice but only saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard a cry! God is disappointed, frustrated, and angry that God’s people don’t live out God’s kingdom values of love and justice.
Let us read this text with our own society in mind. God expects works of justice from us but often we ignore the outcries of suffering. Since I am involved in the works of LGBTQ+ justice in Korea, I am mostly angry about what goes on there. Queer people cannot come out and live as their authentic selves. Their families marginalize and oppress them. They cannot stop discrimination because Korea won’t pass the anti-discrimination law; it has been 17 years. They are so oppressed and dehumanized that a lot of them struggle with mental health and/ or kill themselves. The Catholic teen queer activist and poet Yook Woo Dang was one of them. Every year, we remember him and read his poems to remind ourselves of the silent cries of our marginalized siblings.
Make Noise for God’s Justice
Let us ask ourselves if we are ignoring bloodshed and cries of suffering from our siblings, not only human but all God’s creation. A farmer plants vines expecting grapes to grow. God made us to be God’s representatives here on earth to do God’s work of love and justice. How are we doing in siding with the marginalized and fighting for justice for them, like we learned from Jesus? Maybe we should make more noise.
Let us not focus on the negative reinforcements of the Bible, such as, “Produce good fruit or else God will prune us and put us into fire.” Listen to the message of Psalm 80: “Let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself. Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name.” Let this be our prayer. Let us ask God to give us life and care for us, God’s vines, so that we can produce good fruit that is compatible with God’s values. Let us not ignore the bloodshed and outcries of God’s suffering creation, humans, animals, and nature alike. Let us make more noise for God’s voice and the voice of the marginalized to be heard. Let us make more noise to bring justice for them.