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The Bible Speaks – A Reflection

March 5, 2020

I have been spending a fair amount of time with Thomas Merton and the Psalms of Lament (the focus of our Midweek Lenten Services) this Lenten season. Actually I have been spending a lot of time with Merton and I have been for quite some time now.

When I first met Merton in January of 2015, I had a difficult time following him. Denise and I were at a course for our Certificate in Christian Spiritual Formation at Columbia Presbyterian Theological Seminary. We were taking a course about Merton and his journals. I didn’t understand at the beginning why Merton flew from one point or thought to another. I wondered if he would have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder today.

It wasn’t until I began to read and reflect on his thoughts regarding War-madness, warmongering, and the oppression of the poor that I got it. Merton had so much going through his heart and his mind that he seemed to need to speak or write in order to get his thoughts out and on paper. It was through the reading and reflection we did that week in class that Thomas Merton reached into my very soul and challenged me! He challenged me yet he also challenged me in love.

Today I see so much going on in the world that oppresses the poor and the vanishing middle class in favor of the rich. It seems to me that we have lost our Moral Compass and Merton is challenging us today as he did in the 1960’s to find and reclaim that Compass.

Today I came across a quote from Merton’s book Opening the Bible which was was published in 1970, two years after his death. It is both profound and challenging in its simplicity and complexity.

We must never overlook the fact that the message of the Bible is above all a message preached to the poor, the burdened, the underprivileged. (p. 51)

As we face illnesses and soaring costs of both medicine and insurance. As I see it, our sisters and brothers have to make a choice between working sick because they can’t afford to take time off for fear of being fired because they don’t get adequate sick leave or time off or losing their job. I see a gross inequity and neglect of one of the fundamental calls as a decent human being and a person of faith. We ditch others so that we can have more of the supposed limited pie.

Matthew 25 challenges us to look at our actions (or lack of actions) on behalf of our poorer sisters and brothers. The “goats” in Jesus’s parable asked… When did we see you hungry and not feed you? When did we see thirsty and not give you something to drink? When did we see you naked and not clothe you? When did we see you in prison and not visit you? When did we not see or recognize you, Lord? Then the Lord replied: Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me. (Matthew 25:45)

That is what Merton is trying to remind us of. He is calling us back to the way God wants all of us to act and minister in God’s name. May we hear that challenge and take up that calling.

One Comment
  1. These are salutary yet necessary thoughts. Thank you for considering these things and, in making your concerns public, being a voice for the poor, marginalised and oppressed. Bless you, Michael, for your caring, compassionate heart. ❤

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