The President of the United States is planning to build a wall across America’s southern border, all 1933 miles. A wall which will rival the Great Wall of China! That Wall in China might be longer but Mr Trump’s Wall is higher, no one will be able to scale it, get around it, or bury under it, he boasts.
By contrast the Chinese wall was to keep marauding armies at bay, the President’s wall is to keep poor country people out. Strangely the same people who are the back bone of his economy and whom many people depend.
The wall will cost $6 billion dollars, but no one has any idea what the real cost will end up being. It will turn America into one of those medieval walled cities. It will create a sense of siege, the drawbridge will be raised, those behind the wall will look out at everyone as a potential enemy that will do them harm. It will be a scar over the landscape, where there was once natural sights, river and streams and hills and ugly wall will rise up to divide the land and peoples.
The world doesn’t need any more walls, it has enough walls. It has enough walls which divide communities. It has enough barriers, road blocks, police checks, soaring structures which block out the light. What it really needs are bridges that unite people. Bridges that connect things. Bridges that bring people together.
The first reading of Mass gives a warning to people who put their trust in walls and useless things that they think makes them secure. Instead it says put your trust in real and lasting things, be like a tree that sends its roots into the soil and finds the stream. And when the heat comes and the drought comes, the leaves will still be green and the tree shall still bear fruit.
A wall will always do what it says, divide, cut off, keeps at bay, it will not end up being a real solution. It often creates more problems than it solves. Put your trust in real things, not in things that don’t work.
Jesus word and actions sometimes have that sense that they are knocking walls down. Instead of building walls he builds bridges to the sick, the wounded, those are on the margins. Those words if the sermon on the mount are a promise of a better world nit a divided world – the hungry shall be fed, those who are weeping will rejoice, those who are excluded or denounced or hated will be vindicated. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day.
There are mire types of walls than those built from plaster and brick or from iron. There are invisible walls that you don’t see but are there, walls of silence and resentment and anger between people. A dumb silence that draws down a veil between two people. A high wall that becomes insurmountable, no way over it, under it or around it.
We might be looking disapprovingly at Mr Trump’s wall but it might be that we are equally guilty of building walls too.
Before Jesus walls come tumbling down. In the Old Testament Joshua blows the trumpet and the walls of Jericho fall down. Just as the first reading says those things that we most secure end up not being the things to put our trust in.
Put your trust rather in real things. Be like a tree that finds the streams of water. When the scorching sun comes your leaves will remain green and when the drought comes your will continue to bear fruit.