Lack of Transparency

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 — Week of Proper 23, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 119:1-24 (morning) // 12, 13, 14 (evening)

Jeremiah 37:3-21

1 Corinthians 14:13-25

Matthew 10:24-33

I’ll start off this morning with a confession: I’ve been following a soap opera for more than two decades. It’s called “The Bold and the Beautiful,” and, like other soap operas, it dramatizes the lives and loves and sharp ups and downs of a core set of characters. The plot lines of soap operas are especially powerful at driving home a lesson from today’s gospel: “nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.”

In the genre of soap operas, the cover-ups and secrets often involve a character’s dark past, a child’s true paternity, or someone’s evil twin. The pleasurable agony of watching soap operas comes from watching these secrets inevitably come to light through whispers, disclosures, and finally hard evidence. Often, one character wants to confess a mistake or a secret, but they never do so in time to prevent the secret from damaging their relationships.

There is a common ethic in the moral universe of soap operas and in the cryptic sayings of Jesus: an ethic of transparency. Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered. Nothing is secret that will not become known. Imagine how we could change our personal relationships as well as our public institutions if we accepted this truth—today. We could stop building protective walls around ourselves. We could stop abuses or injustices from getting swept under the rug.

As our soap operas teach us, some secrets and hidden things can unfold gradually and painfully. But Jesus encourages us to embrace the least painful path to transparency about the content of our hearts. He says, “What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.” Jesus is always trying to nudge us along a journey of more courageous and liberating disclosures.

Of course, there are appropriate times for discretion, privacy, and confidentiality—particularly with secrets that are not ours to tell. But Jesus points us in the direction of transparency, which leads to authenticity in our relationships and justice in our institutions. Today we can step forward in the faith that those things that are covered, secret, or whispered can’t remain so for much longer.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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