March 15, 2019
You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!” Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if the wicked, turning from the wickedness he has committed, does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. Ez_18:21-28
Jesus said, “Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise 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.” Mt_5:20-26
Jesus gave us a couple of parables about debtors who were placed in prisons until they paid off their debts. My common sense always seemed to tell me that if a person didn’t pay their debt, it was most likely because they didn’t have enough money to pay it.
So, I often wondered where they would get the money to pay that debt if they were in prison. It just didn’t make any sense. Unless, of course, they got paid or credited for some job or work that they did while they were in prison.
And yet, then I realized that evil doesn’t always have to make sense.
Maybe those debtors, actually had lots of money; money that they were hoarding or hiding. And their not making payment was just a matter of their freewill refusal to pay.
Maybe, instead of having to earn the money to make payment, all these people had to do, was let go of some of what they were privately hoarding.
It was all a matter of will-power.
And the point of putting them in prison, then, was to break their will, so that they would finally let go of some of their actual possessions in order to pay their debts.
But then, isn’t that the whole story of life?
God has given us all, from our birth, these wonderful gifts of Life, and Talents, and Choice. From a philosophical point of view, you might say that “we OWE Him.” We owe God the use of those gifts of arms and legs, of heart and mind, of choice and wisdom, and even the money that we earn, for making the world a better place for everyone to live, not just ourselves.
And when we hoard it, just for ourselves, we actually become those truant debtors, who need a little will-breaking to remember the source of everything we have and are.
You see, in giving to the poor, we’ve made a little payment on our debt.
In helping the elderly or sharing our wisdom with the youth, we’ve made a little payment on our debt.
In sharing beautiful music; in helping others with their accounting; in offering our time, sometimes just sitting with another lonely soul in silence, we’re paying our debt to God for all the grace we’ve received in this life.
And yet, if we look at everything we do for others in life – as payment, it’s most likely that at some point in time we’re going to get tired of it all and just want to sit back and relax…
To retire from debt.
And that’s where our First Reading from the Prophet Ezekiel comes into play.
If we’ve done good all our lives and finally decide to get bad. Well, we might as well have been bad all our lives, because none of the good we’ve done will count!
And if we’ve been bad all our lives and just before death decide to something good, then we will have just seemed to have cheated the whole system. And where’s the fairness in either case?
You see, the point is, that there is no fairness.
Was it fair that Jesus was killed for pointing out the reality of good and bad in a corrupt system?
Was it fair that the apostles were killed for agreeing with Jesus?
Is anything in life really fair?
And thus we have religion. That Jesus paid our debt to God, doesn’t give us a free pass to sin. That we recognize that our being good, isn’t a guarantee that we’ll never slip up again and risk losing it all.
But if, instead of living a life of debt, a life of hardship against what we’d rather do, sin; we live a life of Love as a motive, a life of Faith in Jesus, who already paid that debt, then there will never come a time when we’ll want to retire from Love. Because Love IS all we’ll ever want and everything we’ll ever need to offer!
And THAT, for God, is enough!
____________________end of post