Our country has some deep spiritual wounds. America has become a broken and wounded animal. We have an infection that runs deep under the surface of our streets. There is a tension that has become evident in the recent riots, the heated rhetoric, and in our political discourse. Left to it's own devices it will fester and grow until it eventually kills the animal. The wound must be tended. It must be cared for. It must receive the proper medicine. To do that we must face the wound head on. We must know where it is, and what caused it.
This wound too began with a serpent. As the story goes, it began in a garden with two people and an apple. It began with pride. A pride that mankind has been struggling with ever since. A pride that tells us that one person is better than another. One which gathers up our own gall, causes us to speak out to the other without recognizing their dignity. To not trust. To build up walls, both physical and mental. A pride that prevents us from going out of our own comfort zone and listening with an earnest and open heart to the other side. A pride that hides behind it something just as sinister... fear. Fear of the unknown, the other, 'them.' A fear that causes us to demonize the opponent until we believe them to be pure evil. Then in turn they do the same to us, until there is nothing left in common, only anger.
The scripture is clear today what the antidote is to this disease, this festering wound that we bear in our veins.
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
[...]If you remove from your midst
oppression, false accusation and malicious speech;
if you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday.
His servant and yours,
"He must increase, I must decrease."
A reflection on the readings for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 5th, 2017.