All of us are wounded.
There are parts of our lives that cause us deep pain or shame, parts that make us feel less than human.
Sometimes the wounds come from without – injustice, sickness, war, insults.
But sometimes the wounds come from within. José A Pagola, in Following in the Footsteps of Jesus (page 91), puts it well:
We live our lives trying to hide our failings in order to pretend before others and ourselves to have a perfection we do not possess.
Psychologists tell us that this tendency is a defense mechanism to maintain our self-respect when faced with the possible superiority of others. What we lack is a real self-affirmation that comes from a life of dignity.
But Isaiah promised a wounded people (Isaiah 58:8) that
your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed.
When I read today’s reading from Isaiah 58: 7-10, I was struck by his insight that our wounds will be quickly healed when you
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
It’s not mere prayer or silence that will bring healing – but going out to the poor. Our good deeds will bring light and healing
As Jesus tells us in the Gospel (Matthew 5: 16)
your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.
When we feel wounded, weary, small, God offers a way out. Recognizing his love and light shining in the darkness of our lives, we are called out of ourselves – to recognize the darkness around us and respond in love.
I have experienced this in my own life. I feel most alive here when I am in contact with the poor, when I am with them.
This is nothing heroic – unless heroism is seen in a downward mobility, relying on the power of God as we accompany other wounded people, be they the poor, the sick, the dying, the depressed.
Then, accompanying the poor and struggling for justice, we shall, as Isaiah tells us (58:10), experience something of God’s love and light:
then shall your light shall rise for you in the darkness, and your gloom shall be like noon.