There is meant to be something different about Holy week. Something that changes us, that allows us to enter into THE story that is at the heart of everything. To that end, I want to share with you some news about a St. Ann school Alum who allowed the story of Jesus to change him. T.J. Kayser was sentenced to jail for 10 days for trespassing on Vandenberg AFB. His was a non-violent act of civil disobedience. You may agree with his act, or you may disagree. But what was stunning to me was his ‘statement’ he made at his sentencing. It reads, in part, as follows.
Upon receiving a copy of the Statement of Probable Cause for my arrest at Vandenberg AFB on October 21, I noticed an error in the statement. It says, and I quote: “Kayser was asked what he was doing on Vandenberg AFB. Kayser stated ‘nothing.’” I would just like to say that this was not my response because “nothing” is precisely the opposite of what I was doing. “Nothing” is what far too many people of good will do. While schools lose funding and people sleep on the streets of this country, billions of dollars are spent on preparations for nuclear war and most people do “nothing.” While ICBMs are tested at Vandenberg AFB, polluting the water of the Marshall Islands with depleted uranium, and the coast of California with exhaust from rocket fuel, most people do “nothing.” I was not doing “nothing” because I did “nothing” for too long and I can do” nothing” no more.
Exactly 50 years before Oct. 21st, the world was brought to the brink of nuclear destruction during what is referred to as the Cuban Missile Crisis. I can only say that we have not yet learned our lesson and that there has been far too much “nothing” during those 50 years. I understand that by deciding not to do “nothing”, I have put myself at risk. I understand that perhaps those who have been commissioned by the state to make such judgments may deem it necessary that I be punished with imprisonment for refusing to do “nothing.” I am prepared for this, as I cannot in good conscience pay fines that will ultimately support a system that defends the rights of war-makers at the expense of peacemakers. I am prepared for whatever sentence might be passed down, but I am not prepared to do “nothing.
I am powerfully reminded as I read TJ’s statement about another man who stood before the powers that be and testified to the truth. A man who was unwilling to do ‘nothing’ – but rather, chose to accept the consequences of his decision to push the love of God into all the broken parts of our world. As we enter Holy Week next Sunday, the story of sacrificial love continues to call us to be not just observers of some divine drama, but to become participants in the ongoing transformation of the world Jesus died to save. Will you do ‘nothing’ or will you too, become a part of story that continues to bring salvation to all? (for a full copy of TJ’s statement, go to: lacatholicworker.org)