16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
….and he has broken down the dividing wall
In Ephesians today we hear, “…For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility,…”
The dividing wall is a metaphor taken from the wall that divided the court of the Gentiles from the court of the Israelites in the Temple. It is also a metaphor for us today, isn’t it? We build invisible (and sometimes literal) walls all the time to keep ‘those’ people out, and even sometimes to keep someone in. Walls are a way of control. Walls are a way of excluding to show power. Exclusion can be a powerful addiction.
We build walls around our heart based on a person or a group’s culture, nationality, religion, skin colour, bank account, family; and on small, even meaningless things, like a person’s athletic ability, physical beauty, education, intelligence, weight, hair, job, attire…. In building these walls the enemy is whispering in our ear, ‘don’t go near them, don’t let them sit with (or even near) you, don’t talk to them, don’t work with them, they are not worthy of you, they don’t deserve to be in your space, in your circle, in your group, in your city, even, in your country. They are less than, undeserving, unworthy…..’ We start to believe we have to keep a specific group of people OUT because most often we fear them for what they might contaminate us with. We have bought into the lies of the enemy. Again. And we do every day. Every. Day. Our building of walls begins with our judging another person or group of people because of a ‘difference’, they are different than I am/my group is. They think different – they are different – they are less than, they are NOT EQUAL and therefore they are not welcome. So to keep them out, we build walls. And many of us begin this judging very early in life; most are taught this – even in good loving Christian homes.
We sometimes – often? – even build walls within our own family. If we can’t, if we choose not to love those in our own family with an intentional love, if we choose not to welcome even our own family into our heart, how can we even begin to heal our world from all the evils our human wall-building has created?
Our Heavenly Father isn’t instructing us to build walls, but instead He instructs us to tear down walls by loving, even our enemies, time and time again. Christ didn’t build walls between himself and anyone. He ate with sinners – he didn’t sin with them, but he welcomed them into His heart, into his life. He excluded no one. He built no walls between any other human being. Not Pontius Pilate, not Herod, not those driving the nails, neither of the thieves being crucified with him, not even Judas. Yet we continue to build walls. As a follower of Christ we cannot, in any way, justify judging others, justify building/hiding behind a wall of separation between humans. That is God’s business, not ours, Jesus showed us that.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Gina Ulicny)
Prayer: Father God, we are beyond grateful that you haven’t placed a wall between your love and us. We know we don’t deserve your mercy, your grace, your goodness, your love, yet you never cease to envelope us with your unending love.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for Jesus’ daily example of including every human in his path, for tearing down walls with love.