Several years ago my wife and I spent a week in Cherokee and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. We learned a great deal about the history and culture of the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee trace their oral history back 10,000 years as people of the Carolinas and Tennessee. We dug into their culture and tradition of passing on to each generation values to live by. We read a wonderful story about this in the Museum of the Cherokee. Visualize just for a moment that you are on top of a mountain many centuries ago. You are surrounded by the pristine, breathtaking natural beauty of innumerable mountains, valleys and streams as far as you can see. It is paradise on earth. You are a young teenager of the Cherokee nation on a mountain, sitting across from your grandfather, separated by a campfire. Your grandfather says to you: “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy and greed – resentment and inferiority - lies and ego. It lives a self-centered life. The other wolf is good. It is joy, peace, and love - hope, humility, and kindness - empathy and truth. The good wolf lives a life of compassion and love. The boy thinks about it and asks, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?” The old man quietly answers, “The one you feed.”
The Apostle Paul speaks to this same wisdom in our New Testament readings. To run the good race, to live committed to the way of Christ, we turn away from anger, jealousy, greed, and resentment, inferiority, and lies and ego that are the ways of this world. To run the good race we live in Christ, fed by his Gospel, and experience his joy, peace, and love, hope, humility, and kindness, empathy and truth. We are true Children of God when we fill our heart and mind with the love and goodness revealed in His word and will.