Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Transformation

Dominican Study Group was tonight. Steve and Doc, from Facing History and Ourselves, came with a DVD and a CD. We watched "The Lunch Date." It was a cute little story of an obviously "well off" lady in Grand Central Station. She had an armful of shopping bags. The camera panned the surrounding area and showed some sordid characters hanging around. When SMACK, the lady was jostled and dropped her pocketbook and bags. A black man stopped and helped her. All the while they were picking up her scattered stuff, she kept protesting "I'll do it; don't help me; you'll make me late for my train..."

She was too late for the train.

Resigned, she went back into the station with an anxious expression. She seemed to look for something (probably her wallet)but didn't find it. She dug around in her pockets and found enough change to purchase a salad. Pushing her shopping bags into a booth, she settled down to eat, only to realize that she didn't have any eating utensils. Leaving her booth she went to get a fork.

But when she came back, there was a man eating her salad! He might have been homeless, because every black man we saw in this station seemed to be down and out. However, this man never speaks. Even when the lady indignantly accuses him of taking her salad. He looks at her as if she's crazy and just continues to eat. She plops herself across from him and glares at him. He continues to impertinently fork the salad into his mouth. Well! She stabs a piece of that salad and forks it into her mouth. And there we go: his mouth, her mouth...he crunches, she crunches...

Now that I think about it, this is funny. But I was focused on something else. Their demeanor changes. The lady relaxes. He wasn't as uptight as she, but he's more relaxed also. When he's finished, he gets up. Next we see come back to the table with two cups of beverage. The lady was pleasantly surprised. He offers her the sugar on the table but she refuses. Then he takes artificial sweetener from his pocket and offers that. She takes it. Steve quipped that it might have been "Equal."

When they're finished they leave. She walks away and realizes that she left her bags, so she rushes back to the booth and they're not there. She looks around. She walks around. As she's rushing hither and yon, we can see her shopping bags in the booth behind the booth she previously occupied. Finally, she sees that, also. But wait! There on that table is the salad she had originally bought. ??????

She had been sitting at the wrong table, eating some one else's salad and thinking the worse of this man who "stole" her salad.

The lesson was how this lady's perception of people was changed. We hope this was a learning experience for her. Her judgement was challenged and that should have been life altering.
Comparing this story to Mark's gospel was interesting. Mark 8: 14-22 is the story of the apostles not understanding. Like the lady in Grand Central Station in the beginning. Their preconceived judgements are set. Then something happens to challenge them. For the lady it was the realization that she had been wrong: about people, about appearances, about her judgement. For the apostles, especially Peter, that being the Messiah wasn't about miracles, or defeating the Romans. Jesus wasn't about their physical situation. Both the lady and the disciples were transformed. But the process isn't instant. It takes time, and it's a two way process. One has to be open to it.

We want to be transformed. And we do this by acknowledging the need to be changed, pray for it, and work towards it. It's a grace.

Then we watched a music DVD of Stand By Me. It was a suitable closing prayer.

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