Sunday, January 29, 2017

Are we in the Matrix?

As I read the Facebook walls of many of my friends, I am inundated with news commentary and articles expressing praise or disdain for the current administration.   I feel like Switch in the Matrix movies when the antagonist begins pulling out their 'plugs.'   In that terrifying scene the man says "If you have anything to say to Switch, I suggest you do it now."   Switch knows what is happening, she knows she's about to die.  "No, not like this. Not like this."   Then it's over.  She's dead.  A woman who was a warrior, a freedom fighter, an outcast who keeps coming back in to the fight for the rights of others;  broken in a moment where she has no way to fight back, with an enemy who doesn't even let her see his face.

I just read a news article in which a family from one of the countries that our President has put a 'ban' on.  They apparently had come to America to see their family and were refused admission, even though all of their papers were in order.  They had to board a plane and fly back to whatever country they were from.  Is that the answer?  Something does have to be done, doesn't it?   We have an illegal immigration problem that is out of hand.  We have terror attacks occurring on U.S. soil by radicalized people who want to harm as many as they can, to go out in a blaze of glory!  Building walls?  Banning people from entry because of where they happened to be born?  Refusing even refugees of war torn countries?

Today's readings remind us of the need for humility.  The need to trust in God and his providence, but also to realize that we alone are not worth much.   We often think of America as the greatest of countries, and in many ways it is.  From freedom to resources, we are indeed well off compared to many other places of the world.  We have more food than we need and often abuse that, gluttonously devouring more than our share.  We have wealth, power and prestige... but all of this is nothing.   God lifted up the lowly and cast down the mighty.   That doesn't mean that the wealthy should be under the poor.. or the poor given a pedestal... but rather that they both be brought to the same level... human.. a sinner.

Jesus reminds us in the beatitudes of that calling.  The calling to be a humble, coheir to the kingdom.   One that has nothing to boast for, except in Christ.  Thomas Aquinas, one of the most brilliant minds in the history of mankind, wrote volume upon volume about God.   As he placed his works under the cross he said "Here lord, I hope this is worthy."   Christ said from the cross, "You have done well.   I will answer any request you ask, give you anything you desire."   Thomas said, "Only you lord, only you."  Wow.   That's what the beatitudes call us to.   A radical divergence from self desire and ego.  To become like Christ on the cross... poor, meek, humble.   To rely totally on God's plan, regardless of who we are, how much we have, or where we come from.

You and I were born into this.  We didn't earn it.  We just happened to be born on American soil.  They were born where they were, not because they chose.  Not because they failed to be as 'worthy.'  Now they flee from those people who want to kill them, harm them, tax them into non-existence.. and we do what?  We shut the door on them in the name of American exceptionalism.  Don't get me wrong.   I am a patriot. I love my country.   I however am not a nationalist.  I will point out when our country does something wrong. We are making a mistake when we say America first, period.   It should be humanity first.  It should be the widow, the orphan, the refugee, the alien... that's what Scripture calls us to.  So if you're a Christian, and you believe this to be a Christian nation, we need to step up and say "No, not like this."  To be merciful, to be meek, to be clean of heart, and above all to thirst for justice and righteousness.

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease."

A reflection on the readings for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 29th, 2017 .