Thursday, February 13, 2020

Unbinding the Ties that Bind

Dear Friends,

Watching the Senate Trial of President Trump following his impeachment, I wondered to whom the senators were bound? To their God , the ultimate recipient of the oath? To the Constitution?  Or  to the Republican Party?

During our lifetimes, each  of us is bound as a consequence of the choices we make. Sometimes we are bound together to achieve a  common goal. Sometimes, we bind ourselves to our own detriment – as when we cannot let go of a destructive idea or practice or a habit that can overwhelm us. Sometimes we bind others by not forgiving them the wrong – real or imagined – that they have done, by freezing them into a moment of time when they did something wrong or mean, or stupid or compromising and we’ve never allowed them to forget it – or we’ve not let them grow beyond it.

Image result for lukes gospel good samaritan
The Good Samaritan
In Luke’s Gospel, we find the unique story of the Good Samaritan, who could have been so bound in spirit by the undiscriminating hatred of the Jews for the Samaritans that he could have passed by the Jewish man left by the wayside, the remnant of an attack by thieves. After all, the priest and the Levite, fellow countrymen of the victim, passed him by. Perhaps they were in a hurry or didn’t care or couldn’t act on their caring if they had any. But the nameless Samaritan cared, took time to bind the victim’s wounds and got him to a place of safety,

Who then was the neighbor to the victim, Jesus asks pointedly?

In our daily lives, strangers often help bind wounds for us and if we are alert and committed to do good, we bind the wounds of others.

Sometimes, we bind ourselves by people’s perceptions of us . Have you ever felt strangers release the loveable in us, but are bound by our family‘s image of us?

While there are many  notable stories of binding and being bound that Jesus tells, let’s look at only one more. In Mark 3 Jesus tells this story: “No One can make his way into a strong man house and steal from him unless he has first bound the strong man. Only then can he steal the strong man’s property.” Who are the strong man and the thief? Usually, we think of the strong man as the good guy. 

But here’s a twist. The strong man can be any oppressive institution, civic or religious, that prevents individuals or communities from living with dignity and with human rights respected. The thief is the group or individual or the movement that says no to the strong man and finds ways to bind the strong man so that the people can go free. Non-profit  groups that embrace human rights, ecology and a consistent life ethic are among the thieves that reject oppressors and bind them to free the world’s neediest. Who are the good thieves that you know? Will you join them?

As we personally stand in awe, observing the work of Christ in unbinding others, the Lord turns to us to participate in that unbinding.  Here is the wonderful irony: Being bound to Christ is to be truly free.

~Sister Joan Sobala