The injustice of the world is an inescapable reality. Inescapable, that is, if you are on the nasty side of the equation as one of the have-nots. Those who do not experience the downside of injustice are often not aware that there is a problem, because it’s not a problem for them.
Exploring the Word
When you think about it, there is no commandment specifically against cheating. We’re not supposed to lie, steal, covet, or commit adultery; that much is spelled out. But cheating is not only not expressly forbidden, it is also more or less a biblical tradition.
I like the story about Moses talking God out of smiting the people of Israel off the face of the planet. At what other point in history does a human being hold the moral high ground and teach God how to be compassionate?
I had a friend who did everything right. Heidi kept the weight off, joined the gym, ate smart, drank little, and lived free of stress. And still she died of cancer at the age of 40. At her funeral, there was universal agreement that Heidi shouldn’t have died, that she’d earned the right to more years.
I know people sometimes think that I make this stuff up. But life is so full of potential parables, as Jesus himself observed, that I don’t have to. Once I arrived at a meeting at which lots of important church people were expected. Some of the attendees were well known in the diocese and a few around the country. Being the neurotic type, I arrived first and wandered the room in search of a good seat.
Being an insider appeals to some aspect of our psychology that loves to be recognized as special. But it’s also highly practical. If you know the password, for example, your call will be answered by a live person instead of a machine.
Today’s gospel is not a go-to guide for pyromaniacs. But it is about passion, the fire that consumes hearts, lives, and sometimes whole generations in its intensity. There is passion with a small “p,” like the kind that overwhelms acolytes of Marilyn Monroe or Cary Grant films who are still captivated by her screen radiance and his ebullient charisma.
As any teacher or public speaker knows, the best way to deliver a message is to tell a story that drives the point memorably home. Rest assured that people will lose the handouts, shelve their notes, and forget the PowerPoint display in short order. But an evocative story has staying power.
Just this morning, I was talking to Qoheleth on the phone. He’s the landlord of a friend of mine who has fallen behind in her rent. Qoheleth’s not a bad guy, when it comes down to it—actually has a sense of humor and is quite pleasant.
The telemarketers keep calling despite local and national legislation, exempt listings, and the continual abuse of phone operators by irate would-be customers, those calls come every day, starting earlier and going later every season. And so does the “spam” of email or messaging.