“If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.”
– Isaiah 58:9b-10
“[Jesus said,] ‘You are the light of the world.'” – Matthew 5:14a
I’m trying, Jesus, I am surely trying
(and don’t think I can’t see and hear and feel
your smile twisting as you think
“Oh, yes. You’re definitely trying… all my patience!”).
I’m trying to remove the yokes. I pray
that you are seeing more success with that than I.
I’m trying to refrain from speaking evil, even if
it means I must lock down by tongue to silence.
And I’m trying, surely trying, Jesus,
to direct my pointing finger solely to myself,
to take the blame when it is mine,
and not add strife with blame to others.
I’ve got to say that my hard-won restraint
has not been echoed widely, has it?
You and I both know that finger-pointing is
activity in which a multitude delights.
While I am struggling with my guttering light,
a horde of people praise the shadows, and
to my astonishment, they call the shadows light.
No hungry fed, no naked clothed, evil celebrated.
My finger itches, Jesus, with the urge to point
and then shout out (as once Isaiah was directed)
with trumpet calls: “For shame, you hypocrites!
You do not shine, you hide the light of God!”
And then I breathe in deep, down to the belly, as
I contemplate your failures, Jesus, in the world.
You called them out, the hypocrites who taunted you
as your light shone upon the torturer’s cross.
I’ll do my best to shine, I will. I’ll try.
I’ll feed that guttering wick and shield it from
the howling winds as best I can. But man…
My finger itches, Jesus. Yes, it surely does.
A poem/prayer based on Isaiah 58:1-12 and Matthew 5:13-20, the Revised Common Lectionary First Reading and Gospel Reading for Year A, the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
Photo by Eric Anderson.