This passage from Daniel makes me think of the excellent work being done by the Reparations Committee of the Diocese of New York. Here is that committee’s definition of reparations: Reparations is the process to remember, repair, restore, reconcile and make amends for wrongs that can never be singularly reducible to monetary terms. The process of reparations is an historical reckoning involving acknowledgement that an offense against humanity was committed and that the victims have not received justice. Following 2018’s year of Lamentation, this year, 2019, is the year of Apology.
Sometimes we are all called to take a close look at our complicity in systemic injustices that have benefited us — injustices which may not have been originally of our own making, but which we have enabled through our unwillingness to learn our own history, our silence, or even our active participation. This passage from Daniel reminds us that such systems are not new—they were present in ancient Judea, and they are still present today. It reminds us also that God’s call to us is always to turn and turn again — to hear the prophets and to respond to God’s desire for justice. During this year, Ascension will be joining other churches in the diocese by looking into ways that we, as a parish, have benefited from the proceeds of institutional slavery in the United States. While we can never make whole the wounds of the past, we can and should continue to strive for justice.