As we read this, all of us will know the results of this mid- term election. Our prayers should be with those who win the election, for those who lose, and for those who voted for both of them.
For some reason I am hoping to remember Joseph of Arimathaea after this election. “He was a good and righteous man… and had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathaea and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 23:50-56) That’s us!! I think we all are waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God and are hoping to find some part of it in all the people we voted for as well as in all the places we worship and all the places we attend 12 step meetings, those thin places, filled with the prayers of thousands before us. We have much in common with Joseph of Arimathaea.
“He did not agree to their plan and action.” But what did he do about it? Did he speak up for Jesus? There is no record that anyone testified on Jesus’ behalf. We have sometimes been like Joseph of Arimathaea. We sometimes see injustice and wrongdoings in the lives of others and ourselves, but we do not speak up against them. We fear what might happen to us. We fear the consequences of speaking out. We fear what we do or say might be offensive and hurt someone, or heaven forbid, we would become unpopular. We fear that our voice will not make a difference.
But then a transformation occurs in Joseph, what we might call, a moment of clarity. Joseph personally goes to Pilate. What bravery. He asks for Jesus’ body, personally and compassionately takes the nails out of Jesus’ hands and feet, washes off the blood from his head, his hands, his feet, his side, his back, wraps the body in a linen cloth and lays it presumably in his own tomb.
Are we Joseph of Arimathaea? Is there a point where we can no longer live our lives with a mask? We no longer pretend to go along with the old crowd inside and outside of ourselves. We look deep inside ourselves and speak our truth and act on it. This happened with our recovery. This also may be how we experienced voting yesterday. No matter the results of the election, we voted and let our voice be heard.
A fictional modern-day Joseph might be Atticus Finch, a widowed lawyer in 1932 Alabama in To Kill a Mockingbird. He unsuccessfully defends Tom Robinson the black man accused of raping a white woman.
Another modern-day Joseph of Arimathaea is Rosa Parks, the black seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama, who decides one day she is too tired to walk to the back of the bus and changes the course of civil rights.
And of course, there are those of us in 12 step Recovery who one day decide we can no longer live our old way and take off our masks of perfection and a secret lifestyle and admit we have a problem and seek help and in turn help others. Think about it. We who are gathered today through the internet know what it is like to be Joseph of Arimathea.
I think there is a Joseph of Arimathaea inside each of us, finally making a stand, changing the way we have been relating to ourselves, to God, and to the world.
Remember the quiet, compassionate, loving courage of Joseph of Arimathea that is in each of us, the courage to change, the courage that led us to recovery, the courage to bring healing to ourselves and others, and now the courage to bring compassionate healing to our country especially in the days ahead.
Joseph provided the tomb for resurrection to take place. That is now our job. We have learned about resurrection and compassion for others in our 12 step groups. We are called now to be that same vessel for compassion outside in the world today.