Sunday, September 20, 2009

The wicked and the just - and what's this about intimacy with the Triune God?




Here's today's first reading:
Reading 1

Wis 2:12, 17-20

The wicked say:
Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him.
For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him
and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test
that we may have proof of his gentleness
and try his patience.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
for according to his own words, God will take care of him.

So I have been reading Simon Tugwell on forgiveness. He reminds us that we can't expect to get too intimate with the Persons of God if we hate and refuse forgiveness to other sinners like ourselves, whom God has forgiven and who are beloved to Him.

Tugwell points out that this isn't a wimpy, soft version of forgiveness that glosses over the hurts inflicted on others by sin.

So I'm looking at this first reading and trying to integrate the concept of "the wicked" with the reality of all of us being sinners in the same boat.
The wicked say:
Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
Seen in light of the truth that the just and the wicked are all sinners, I interpret this as a fair description of how we human beings treat one another on a day to day basis. Nobody wants to hear himself criticized. It is particularly annoying to be criticized by somebody whose criticisms are correct. So we lash out at our critics. We really ought to be kissing their feet -- our friends are not likely to point out our faults the way our critics are!
Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him.
For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him
and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
This gets more personal and more involved in the war between good and evil that takes place on both the natural and supernatural level. Now we bring God into the mix. Now we want to put the pressure on our critics, see if their criticisms are valid or if we can prove that they are nothing but hot air. Will God back them up, if we turn on the animosity and the violence towards them?
With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test
that we may have proof of his gentleness
and try his patience.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
for according to his own words, God will take care of him.
Now we get to the point. "He trusted in God, let God take him down from that cross." From a description of how we lash out at our critics who tell the truth (for whatever motivation), we come to a description of how we sinners treated the truly Just One, the Christ. We tested both the Just Critic and his God, to see if our tormenting of the flesh and spirit of a perfectly just man could call forth a powerful act of defense on the part of the immortal, invisible, God only wise.

We, like Herod, wanted to see a manifestation of the glory of the Lord. We taunted him, by killing his Christ.

"Come on out of Your light inaccessible, hid from our eyes. Reveal Yourself!"

But Jesus died his bloody death on the Cross and nobody came to save him!

When we demonize and torture our critics, are we really trying to put the Triune God to the test? Do we want him to get so pissed off that He breaks His usual modus operandi and comes right out and wipes out the wicked and defends the just ones and makes His power visible to all?

Is that what all the animosity in our nation is about? Are we unconsciously trying to bring about the great and terrible Day of Yahweh?

I don't think it will work. We're probably not as wicked as we think we (or our enemies) are. Or as just.

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