1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Earlier this week, the pro-life community had high hopes as Planned Parenthood announced that Susan G. Komen for the Cure had withdrawn their funding…
Komen would not give money beyond funds committed for this fiscal year to an organization that was under government investigation and who didn’t do mammograms. Komen would no longer issue “pass-through” grants, which payed PP to be the middle-man. Jubilation erupted amongst pro-lifers and the word went out to start funding Komen.
Then came yesterday’s clarification by Komen. They will not fund organizations under criminal investigation (but exempted “political” investigations). Further, they reaffirmed their commitment to funding the existing grants, and preserved PP’s eligibility to apply for future grants.
That doesn’t mean PP will actually get the grants. Theoretically, any women’s health agency is eligible to apply.
Then the word went out in many pro-life quarters to stop funding Komen until we see how this clarification plays itself out. As institutional and political policy goes, that’s pretty sound advice. There is, however, a very human dimension that such policy overlooks, and we need to examine that dimension in light of the Gospel story shared above.
Jesus didn’t wait for sinners to convert before He called to them, ate and drank with them. That peeved the religious leadership of His day. He didn’t demand conversion as a precondition for His love. Conversion was the consequence of being encountered by the love of Jesus.
Zacchaeus was the Cecile Richards of his day. He defrauded his people as he collected taxes for the Roman occupiers. Like Richards, he was a social leper, a pariah. Brinker’s support of PP and her association with Richards has made her little better in the eyes of pro-lifers, a status not altogether undeserved.
I have written about this unholy alliance, as have many, many others. In December, Komen began to change course. Planned Parenthood has had six weeks to organize and gin up their attack machine, making it appear as though there was a groundswell of support for PP and disgust for Komen. Something is being missed here, regarding Brinker.
She has been in bed with PP for years. We ardently desire to see that relationship end, however it should be noted that Satan doesn’t let go easily when we try to climb out of bed with him. Such was the case this week when Komen was savagely attacked, and for what?
Not funding Planned Parenthood for not doing mammograms.
Facing an existential threat, Komen backpedaled.
The response from the pro-life community ought to be the full embrace of Brinker, to let her know that it will be alright in the end. We should gin up our own attack machine against any corporation that breaks faith with Komen because they dare to fund actual mammograms over PP’s cheap squeeze. We should savage any group that dares to castigate Komen for wanting the best for our women, instead of second-best.
No, Brinker is unlikely to come up to the communion rail and profess Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior.
No, there won’t be a made-for-TV moment of conversion.
If that’s what people were expecting, forget it.
Brinker has a tiger by the tail and got a good lesson in how badly mauled she can get for letting go. Now she’s reeling from the mauling, and this is no time for us to sit on our hands. This is when she needs our support the most. Her conversion will be gradual, and painful. The magnitude of her past sin in bedding down with PP determines the magnitude of the consequences for breaking those ties, and the magnitude of support she will need in going forward.
We need to meet with Brinker, in private and in strictest confidence to ascertain her needs and how we can help Komen be all that it can be ethically and morally in its vital mission in saving women’s lives. We need to offer her more than a kind word for attempting doing the right thing.
We need to offer her our Christian love, a love that calls to her in her own self-imposed social exile as Jesus called to Zacchaeus in his, a love that is unconditional. Then we need to embrace each change, no matter how small.
Nancy Brinker is a woman who has tried to chart a new course and was savaged with a hellish fury this week. The question for us this week is who we wish to emulate:
Jesus, or the crowd who muttered, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
Until Brinker shoves us away definitively, I’m with Jesus. I’ll gladly dine with Nancy Brinker and support her in any way that I can. She is a woman of great influence for good or ill, and that is why Hell unleashed its minions on her this week.
Pray for her.