People taking some time to enjoy the hot springs at Ax-Les-Thermes, France

People taking some time to enjoy the hot springs at Ax-Les-Thermes, France

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.

The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places, 
and make your bones strong; 

and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.

-Isaiah 58:9-11

It was interesting to watch the United States from across the ocean for a few weeks. That literal distance gave me a sense of distance from the daily barrage of upsetting news generated in our society. In France, almost everyone is on vacation in August, and so especially in August, it is a country where people all seem more relaxed than I’m used to. The drama of our news cycle was made smaller and less frightening while surrounded by people enjoying each other’s company so much.

Of course, the news is rarely about the planes that don’t crash or the fires that don’t ignite. The news we get is mostly of the crashing and burning type - disasters, destruction, tragedy, and especially lately, people pointing fingers at one another and speaking of evil, to use Isaiah’s words. But the US news cycle was all an ocean away as I cut myself another piece of good cheese or spent the day strolling along the French branch of the Camino de Santiago.

Isn’t one of the best things about vacation getting a fresh perspective on things? Now that I’m back, I hope to keep the news from taking hold of me all day. I’m going to do my best to keep a little bit of that vacation perspective with me. I can’t change the frenetic, anxiety producing 24 hour news cycles that have become such a heavy yoke among us. But I can choose to not be an active participant in it by pointing fingers and speaking of evil myself, falling into the national blame game we seem to be playing as a nation. Instead of burying my face in my phone and picking up more and more ammunition, I can instead give a cheerful “Good Morning!” to the people I pass on the street, have at least a leisurely cup of coffee, and strike up conversations with people, being curious about them and listening to them, as I did in France. I can take myself out of the news and back into my own day to day life.

It’s easy to get sucked into bad news, but I’d rather that my day to day mood and attitude did not reflect and magnify the bad news that is constantly bombarding us. I would rather be an ambassador of the good news, sharing my light instead of my fear, giving water to the thirsty, food to the hungry, and letting God’s good news make my bones stronger.

Our readings for this Sunday are HERE. Note that in ordinary time, we are using the readings from “Track 2.”