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Lenten Reflection: Feb. 21

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Today’s texts: Daniel 9:3-10; Hebrews 2:10-18; John 12:44-50

John 12:44-50

Jesus cried out to the timid believers, in response to their fear of the old guard, namely, the Pharisees and their pursuit of praise from human beings, and pointed to the real authority figure. Unlike the Pharisees, God the Father saves people rather than judging them. As a new comer on the scene, Jesus had his authority questioned. By pointing to the one who sent him, he establishes legitimacy for his message. The pursuit of immediate and short-sighted rewards is also pervasive today, where all authority is de-legitimized and accountability is thus mostly eradicated.  In reflecting on Jesus’ response to the timid people, we can learn to resist such temptations.

Jesus’ passionate sharing indicates his total solidarity and accountability to the one who sent him, the father God.  In these passages, solidarity and accountability, in fact, appear as two sides of one coin. On the surface, one can read these passages and be easily reminded of the Confucian father-son relationship – “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it” (12:49). However, unlike the Confucian kinship dynamic, Jesus depicts a total solidarity between him and the father. Without such perfect solidarity, verse 49 would appear too hierarchical. Whether in family or in church, Confucian culture still dictates primary social organizations in many Asian American contexts. Today’s core human problem hinges upon the demand of accountability without forging solidarity, unlike the case of Jesus and the father God. One of the outcries among Asian American communities, in fact, is the absence of a father’s expressive love.  Many pastors I interviewed painfully described their emotionally distant father when growing up, who demanded accountability without a sense of solidarity. As children, many of these pastors saw Caucasian fathers on TV who hugged their children. This image of a father is idealized in contrast to their own distant fathers. The prodigal son’s father-image is impossible to even imagine for many Asian Americans. What would Asian American churches look like if Asian American fathers and the sons found solidarity and accountability? What kind of gender dynamics could we anticipate in the family and church if the father-son relationship embodies solidarity that accompanies accountability?

young lee hertig

Rev. Dr. Young Lee Hertig is the Vice President and the Southern California Regional Director of ISAAC (Institute for the Study of Asian American Christianity), and AAWOL (Asian American Women On Leadership). She teaches in the Global Studies and Sociology Department at Azusa Pacific University, and Logos Evangelical Seminary.

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