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Building bridges

Building bridges

Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a very small village that was literally built into a hill. People took advantage of the limestone caves that dotted the landscape by setting up house within and extending tents out onto the hillside. Joseph, Jesus’ father, earned his livelihood by making the three-mile journey to Sepphoris, the regional Roman capital that was under construction one hill away. When he was old enough, Jesus no doubt accompanied his father on this daily commute, for the purpose of learning the carpentry trade.

It was a literally a journey from one world to the other -- from Nazareth, poor and under economic and political oppression; to Sepphoris, which was designed to display opulence and power.

Jesus spent much of his ministry attempting to build a bridge over the chasm between the two worlds, and calling the denizens of Sepphoris to account for their hubris and isolation. The chasm between Nazareth and Sepphoris still exists – be it between the South Bronx and Larchmont or Scarsdale (which Jonathan Kozol makes frequent reference to in Ordinary Resurrections); or between Newark and Short Hills or Summit; or between Paterson and Ridgewood or Ramsey. And the same calling to account is still being issued.

When there is no bridge between the two worlds -- or when the bridge that exists is too wobbly for people to want to cross over, we mentally manufacture bridges out of our projection. We make all sorts of assumptions about life on the other side, and since there is very little serious and honest traffic back and forth, these assumptions often stick.  And they are inaccurate, and usually evolve into overt or hidden prejudices. And spiritual isolation is the result.

We are challenged to follow Jesus’ lead and challenge by doing whatever we can (which is more than we want to assume) to build solid bridges between those whose lives are blessed by privilege and those for whom privilege is a wild pipe dream.

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