take the cotton
out of your
If you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
These words from Jesus are frightening. Reconcile before offering gifts to God. I have so many things I want to give to God! How can I possibly reconcile with the world first? My brother is more than the physical person, Tim, on the east coast. My brother is you, is Pat Robertson, is Jim Wallis, is children in Uganda, is the elderly man in Iran, is the mountains, the trees, the blades of grass. Dear God, this job is too big. But if we are to take Jesus' words seriously, we must be doing the active work of reconciliation with our brother. I think my head just exploded.
And the poetry draws on popular imagery of lone bombers destroying self and others. We say that religious ideology creates this. But what really creates this is the lack of voice that we have given to the marginalized. People who are reconciled and in relationship with self, others, and the world, do not do this. Reconciliation is not a one way process. As the lone bomber would engage us before he gets to this point, we must be willing to engage. Dialogue. Reconciliation. Ha-Satan means "the accuser" or "the adversary." Puts a whole new spin on "Satan" doesn't it?
St. Benedict tells us to "Listen with the ear of your heart." In order to listen, we need to clean our ears and remove the cotton.