Friday of the First Week of Lent

Lectionary: 228

None of his virtuous deeds shall be remembered, because he has broken faith and committed sin; because of this, he shall die. 


With the "me too" movement, the United States is undergoing another periodic purge of wicked people from entertainment, politics and business. Spasms like this are described in King David's Psalm 101:8 
Morning after morning I clear all the wicked from the land, to rid the city of the LORD of all doers of evil.
We have seen this urgent rush to righteousness in the Catholic Church with the exposure of pedophile priests and the bishops who protected them. Attempts were made in the 1960's to rid the country of "conservatives"; more recently, of "liberals": although the definition of either has never been clear. There was also the Red Scare of the McCarthy Era when "Communists" were discovered in American society.    
Society must exercise these periodic cleansings to restore a sense of righteousness to an otherwise satisfactory system. 
Meanwhile the plagues of gun violence, suicide, pornography, abortion and chemical addictions continue unabated. These evils, whose roots are enmeshed with those of sexual abuse, cannot be eradicated even by the decrees of King David. 
They have their roots in that Original Sin which is largely denied by a secular society. It will disappear when the world is made safe for democracy. 
In the meanwhile, Jesus urges us to "Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court." You don't want to get caught up in the machinery of justice: 
"...your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."
The doctrine of Original Sin assures less pretentious people that we cannot save ourselves. Only God can do that. The roots of evil run deep in everyone; in the newborn child and the dying patient; in the prisoner on death row, in you and me. I may feel better about myself with the killing of defenseless citizens on death row, or the neutralizing of "terrorists" in Syria but neither effort changes the reality of evil in my heart. 
Lent invites us to consider our enormous guilt and the greater mercy of the Crucified Lord who pleads for us:
Every priest stands daily at his ministry, offering frequently those same sacrifices that can never take away sins. But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God; now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool. 
For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated. The holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying: “This is the covenant I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord: ‘I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them upon their minds,’” he also says: “Their sins and their evildoing I will remember no more.”

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

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