Daily Reflection
January 18th, 2000
Maureen McCann Waldron
Collaborative Ministry Office
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
1 Samuel 16:1-13
Psalms 89:20-22, 27-28
Mark 2:23-28
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Photo copyright, Washington Post.
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The photograph in the Washington Post is stark.  Beneath the colorful native robes, the man kneels on a prayer carpet in a mosque with his head bowed.  His dark arms end in stumps at his wrists, stumps he presses tightly into his closed eyes.  He one of 10,000 victims of a horror-filled civil war in Sierra Leone, where terrorist tactics include cutting off the hands and arms of “the enemy,” leaving them helpless, dependent and depressed.  I looked through the photos at the story on-line, at photo after photo of teens, young men and women, now mostly mutilated. One young woman’s formerly fresh and beautiful face now wears a gaunt, hollow-eyed, hunted look that will never leave her face. 

I read the story and felt empty.  How could human beings do this to each other?   How could so many wars have been fought on so many continents? Is it for freedom?  Or is it for the power of a few?  How many have been fought over “religion”? Decades and centuries of religious wars attest to the fact that these conflicts are not designed to bring people closer to God, but to protect territory and to get rid of those who are different.  There is no answer to this darkest side of humanity, and we can only picture Jesus gently holding those victims, weeping along with them in sorrow and pain. 

Jesus comes to us in our deepest sorrows and our strongest desires.  In today’s gospel, the hungry disciples pull heads of grain from the wheat as they walk through the field with Jesus.  They are quickly reprimanded by the Pharisees for breaking the Sabbath.  The Pharisees seem to not care about bringing the disciples closer to God.  They appear to want only to throw their weight around and bully Jesus, who frightens them.

Jesus calmly faces his critics and answers them so his followers can continue to be nourished.  His first concern is with our hunger and in so many ways, he makes sure we are fed.  In each one of our lives we hunger for things deeply in our souls, things un-nameable, unmentionable and powerful. We long for a deeper connection to God and hunger to understand why so many parts of our lives seem to get in the way of that.

And through it all, Jesus holds us gently in our confusion and pain, feeding us when we no longer have arms, and wiping away our tears – and his own – with his garments.  His desire to care for us, feed our hungers and comfort us in our pain, is what he does best if only we will allow him to do it, if only we will hold out our maimed selves and accept his invitation to be loved.

As we begin this Jubilee year, can we commit that the Sabbath and all that organized religion most deeply calls us to, will always be for people?  Can we commit to breaking down the hostilities that divide us because of our religious judgments and our religious traditions?  Can we commit ourselves to be with Jesus in caring for those in need because of our faith in God and our belief that we are children of one God who loves us all?

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