When you work with wood you enviably get splinters in your flesh. For some time now, I have been working on our log cabin and have come to know this frequently all too well. I keep plenty of Band-Aids and electrical tape in my truck for administering first aid and a tube of triple-antibiotic to battle against infection.
If the splinter is causing pain, I remove it. In order for me to remove the splinter I need a knife or pair of tweezers to aid me in digging the splinter out of my flesh. I also need plenty of light and I now, with my ageing eyesight, need my reading glasses to magnify the injury!
If I can’t see the splinter even with my magnifiers, I can still feel that there is something foreign under my flesh. Sometimes I realize this immediately depending upon the size and nature of the splinter. However, sometimes I am unaware that I have acquired a splinter until an infection sets in and my skin turns red and it becomes tender to the touch.
I also suffer the effects from another type of splinter, but this one lodges in my heart and adheres to my soul. These splinters are foreign objects and should not be found in my temple of God. But I have even grown accustomed to their existence and chose to continue on in life ignoring the soreness and the infections they have caused.
These splinters come from the jagged edges of sin and they hide in the darkness of my self-justifying intellect. I like to feel good about myself and my actions, and therefore ignore their existence! I allow the sinful splinters to separate me from the loving embrace of my creator which is the beginning of an infection that can literally threaten my life. Their existence distracts me from the light of Christ and I cling to the darkness seeking a place to hide them.
Saint John Chrysostom says: “As a wound, so long as it is embedded and concealed, running beneath the surface, it enjoys not a bit of attention, so also sin, as long as it is hidden, being as it were in darkness, is daringly committed with full license. But as soon as it is made manifest, it becomes light; not indeed the sin itself—for how could that be?—but the sinner. For when he has been brought out to light, when he has been admonished, when he has repented, when he has obtained pardon, hast thou not cleared away all his healed darkness? Hast thou not then his wound? Hast thou not called forth his unfruitfulness into fruit? For no one hides a blameless (irreproachable) life; whereas things which are hidden are hidden by darkness covering them.” [Hom. 18, P.G. 62:127 (col. 122); cf. Bl. Theophylact, P.G. 124:408 CD (col. 1108).]
When I realize I have caused someone pain, I need to examine my flesh for the jagged splinter by seeking first-aid from Christ by self-examination and exposing the splinters to the Light by study, confession, prayer and fasting, and then applying a heaping amount of the antibiotic of heartfelt forgiveness and the ever-healing Blood of Christ frequently. The night is far spent; the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.[Rom. 13:12]
Fr. Gabriel Weller 10/24/16