Scripture: Acts 22:24 the tribune directed that (Paul) was to be brought into the barracks, and ordered him to be examined by flogging, to find out the reason for this outcry against him. 25 But when they had tied him up with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who is uncondemned?” 26 When the centurion heard that, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? This man is a Roman citizen.”27 The tribune came and asked Paul, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” 28 The tribune answered, “It cost me a large sum of money to get my citizenship.” Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.” 29 Immediately those who were about to examine him drew back from him; and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.
Observation: As one might expect, being a Roman citizen carried with it privileges in the Roman Empire of ancient times.
Application: I don’t often think of myself as a person of privilege, but the truth is – I am. Despite being an ethnic minority (Latino) I was born in this country as were many generations of my family members. The Hinojosa family has been in what is now south Texas since the 16th century. My parents are both college graduates as am I. And while I have known discrimination, I’ve never been denied opportunity as a result – at least not that I know of. For this I am extremely grateful. Yet today’s passage has me thinking about those living in greater Dallas/Ft. Worth who know far less privilege than I do.
There are people living in communities of relative poverty, who attend poor public schools, who live in fear of a police encounter. There are undocumented people who worry they’ll be sent back to their country of origin at a moment’s notice. There are female pastor colleagues who find it difficult to find work in a male-dominated professional such as the ministry. There are professional people out of work in their 50s and later – who can’t get an interview because of age discrimination. I could go on.
This morning I’m thinking, “How has the Lord called me to support people on the margins in my own hometown?”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, this morning we lift up to you people who live on the margins of our communities. Give us grace to advocate for others where you provide us opportunity to do so. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.