Dear President Trump:
The Daily Lectionary readings contrast fake news and good news.
In the Old Testament reading, the false prophets declare, “‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” Jeremiah says that God’s word – which condemned the people’s greed and falsehood – “is to them an object of scorn…” Indeed, their ears are closed and they cannot listen. (Jeremiah 6:10,13-14) In the Gospel reading, Jesus heals a man who had been tormented by an evil spirit. The liberated man, eager to share his good news, “began to proclaim… how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.” (Mark 5:20)
Mr. President, you have coined the term “fake news” as a way of discrediting stories you disagree with. The Lectionary readings remind us that the difference between “fake news” and “good news” is not whether it is affirming and makes us feel good. Rather, it is whether it is grounded in the truth. Sometimes the truth requires self-examination and change. Lent is such a season.
The late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “I question and soul-search constantly into myself to be as certain as I can that I am fulfilling the true meaning of my work, that I am maintaining my sense of purpose, that I am holding fast to my ideals, that I am guiding my people in the right direction.”
On this Third Sunday of Lent, I leave you with this Franciscan blessing:
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in the world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.
J. Daryl Byler