Monday of Lent 5, April 8, 2019
“Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins. His mercy endures for ever.”
This week we continue to ask God to accept our repentance. The Litany of Penitence continues with:
For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors,
and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.
God has created all humans to partake of one nature and spirit. In modern terms, we might want to say that we all share all but the tiniest fraction of our DNA in common. God loves variety, as we can see from the multiplicity of creation (see Genesis 11:1-9). However, we are socialized into our understandings of reality. We receive language, thought patterns, and categories from our social environment. In our formative years, those people closest to us shape the way we see the world. As humans, we are often afraid of what we don’t know, and so we fear those who experience the world differently than we do, those who fall outside our immediate social circle. In our fear, we are often trained to think in terms of scarcity; if another group has something, there may not be enough for us. We constantly compare ourselves to others, seeking out their weaknesses, while denying our own. “Where do the conflicts and where do the battles among you come from? Is it not from there – from the pleasures waging war in your members? You desire and do not have; you murder and covet because you are not able to obtain; you fight and wage war; you do not have because you do not ask; You ask and do not receive because you ask in an evil fashion, so that you might spend on your own pleasures.” (James 4:1-3, tr David Bentley Hart).
Why might God desire diversity in creation?
What have you learned from those with life experience different from your own?
When has fear of the other gotten in your way?
Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(36. For the Oppressed, BCP 826)