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Jesus, our model for breaking boundaries

Jesus relationship with women, with “sinners” and with those deemed “unclean” or disabled shocked the people of his day. His love for these people exposed inhumane laws. It exposed unjust social structures and burdensome religious expectations. In the name of Love, Jesus broke through barriers that used race, gender, religion and class to separate and oppress people.

Jesus offered the water of eternal life to a Samaritan woman at the well. He ate with tax-collectors, Pharisees and sinners. Jesus even stood up and stopped an angry mob from stoning a woman caught in adultery. He suggested that whoever was without sin should cast the first stone.

God of love, mercy, justice

Jesus’ teachings and actions flowed from his understanding of God. Jesus experienced and spoke of a God of Unconditional Love who embraces all people as beloved. He proclaimed a God of Mercy, who looks at our humanness — our incompleteness — with compassion and relates to the Divine spark in each heart. He revealed a God of Justice, who desires all to live freely in the life given to them.

Jesus understood God. He understood the beauty of who we are as humans. And from that understanding Jesus helped us to see through a world constructed by powerful elites. He wanted us to see a better way: a way of liberation for all. This liberated world is the Reign of God. Herein we belong to each other as kin and each can experience the fullness of life. Jesus broke the barriers of society that divided people. In so doing, Jesus revealed what can be when we reject the ways that society tries to divide us. When we reject the ways society keeps us from seeing each other as fully human.

Healing happens

Whenever Jesus crossed the cultural expectations of his time, healing happened. This is exactly what we are called to do today. We are social beings. Societal beliefs, laws and systems that separate us, isolate us and keep us in fear and hatred harm all of us. Healing occurs when we embrace the other as ourselves. When we remind each other of our inherent dignity. When we work to build systems that honor and support the well-being of all peoples and Earth.

As followers of Jesus, the Providence Community strives to live Jesus’ command: “Follow me.” This isn’t easy. Remember, Jesus ended up crucified by the political elites with support from the religious elites of his day.* But this isn’t the end of the story. We are Easter People — the new life that comes from the vision Jesus shared.

Let us together live as people of vision. Let us move toward life in all its fullness, just as Jesus wanted.

*Note: Jesus wasn’t condemning Judaism. He was condemning those abusing Jewish customs for the sake of maintaining their own power. We see the same from religious elites today in movements like religious nationalism.

About the authors: Sisters Emily TeKolste and Corbin Hannah live in the Farrington’s Grove neighborhood of Terre Haute and strive to foster healing through connecting with their neighbors near and far.

Originally published in the Winter 2024 issue of HOPE magazine.

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Sister Emily TeKolste

Sister Emily TeKolste

Sister Emily TeKolste is in formation with the Sisters of Providence. She is a native of Indianapolis and has a degree in sociology from Xavier University in Cincinnati. Emily is passionate about justice with special interest in environmentalism and sustainability. You can follow her blog at solongstatusquoblog.wordpress.com. She currently ministers with the NETWORK lobby for Catholic social justice.

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  1. Avatar Jane Fischer on January 15, 2024 at 7:01 pm

    Remind us again and again. “Healing occurs when we embrace the other as ourselves.” Thank you, S. Emily and S. Corbin!

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