Sunday, February 5, 2017

A wound that takes time to heal

I remember as a young child one of our dogs had gotten bitten by a snake.  It had this wound on it's side where the flesh had ripped that just would not heal.   For weeks that wound had to be cleaned out and taken care of.   What I remember most was the smell.   It was festering and foul.  Eventually, with enough care, the dog healed and was fine.   It took diligence though.   If the wound wasn't cared for it would get worse.   Left to it's own devices the infection would have simply killed the poor animal.

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.

It is really that simple.   The antidote to fear and pride is humility and trust.   Trust in God.  Trust in each other.   Not to label the other as an enemy, but to reach out to all of mankind.   To stop being so angry.  To stop listening to those things which are made up, to the gossip and opinion columns.. but instead to use our own mind and ears to hear what is truly being said.   No more spreading rumors or lies.   Feeding the hungry, receiving the refugee and the orphan, the veteran and the widow.   A man recently revealed that in our country we have trillions of dollars of untapped natural resources... and yet we worry about who is getting taking care of first.   Why not take care of everyone?  To be light of the world is not to choose which darkness to get rid of it... it's to get rid of all of it, for all people.  The ones in our backyard yes!   Yet, also the ones on the other side of the world as well.

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.