Scripture Focus: Jeremiah 2.34-35
34 On your clothes is found
    the lifeblood of the innocent poor,
    though you did not catch them breaking in.
Yet in spite of all this
35     you say, ‘I am innocent;
    he is not angry with me.’
But I will pass judgment on you
    because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’

Reflection: Blood Spilled
By John Tillman

God made us from the earth. This may be why it is so often noted that the spilled blood of humans “cries” to God from the ground. When the Maker senses his creation unmade, his wrath is justifiably stirred.

Abel’s blood, spilled in an act of jealousy, and revenge, was the first liquid cry in God’s ears but, unfortunately, humanity was not done spilling blood. We spill blood constantly and for many reasons. We spill blood in direct and indirect ways.

One specific way that we spill blood is exactly as Jeremiah describes. We spill blood when we allow the poor to be convicted of crimes without proper evidence and we take their “lifeblood” in execution or by imprisoning them for life. 

We spill blood when we participate in an economy that cheapens our goods by cheapening the lives of workers who put their health and lives in danger in the mines, factories, or sweatshops that produce our goods.

We spill blood when we do not hold those who administer justice accountable for deadly errors or abuses.

We are collectively guilty of spilling blood. As Jeremiah says, the blood of innocents is on our very clothing.

We need the Holy Spirit to confront us with the enormity of injustice around us and to stop saying, “I am innocent. I have not sinned.” Only when we drop our pointless excuses and confess that our clothes are stained with blood and our lips and hands are unclean before God, can we be forgiven and restored.

We can be forgiven of innocent blood we have shed because there is another whose innocent blood cries to God from the ground—Jesus. All the innocent blood we have spilled, from “the blood of righteous Abel” to the blood of the latest innocent to be spilled in today’s news headlines, is answered for by the blood of Jesus. We have spilled the blood of many innocents, but Jesus is The Innocent who spilled his own blood for us. 

His blood cries out not judgment but forgiveness. His blood cries out not curses but blessings. His blood cries out “it is finished.”

When we confess our need for clean hearts, hands, lips, and new garments, Christ clothes us with his righteousness that we may stand and walk in justice.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
“Because the needy are oppressed, and the poor cry out in misery, I will rise up,” says the Lord, “And give them the help they long for.” — Psalm 12.5

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 2 (Listen – 5:54) 
Matthew 16 (Listen – 3:43)

Read more about Philemon’s Speck and Our Log
Our existence is supported by the labor of people who directly or indirectly serve us, just as Onesimus served Philemon.

Read more about Blind to Injustice, Deaf to Oppression
Our nations need your forgiveness. We bow deeply before you. We have betrayed you Lord and done evil before you.