July 23rd, 2012Trying Godby Kevin O'Brien | http://www.thewordinc.org
I'm in a bad mood this morning. Why? Because it's Monday? Because I'm crabby? Because I got out of bed?
It's because my wife had me read the daily Mass readings to her.
Let me explain, first by talking about the future - next weekend.
At the American Chesterton Society Conference in Reno, Nevada next week I will be talking about Chesterton and Shakespeare, and at one point I will say ...
Whether you like Shakespeare or not (a lot of people don't); whether you like Chesterton or not (all of us, I presume, do); whether you'd rather read a book or watch a movie or just have dinner with your friends, you cannot begin to understand life - you cannot begin to be grateful for life - you cannot begin to approach life - until you learn how to read - how to read a book, how to read a play, how to read a movie, how to read your friends, how to read the Great Book of Being written by and filled by the Incarnate Word of God.
This is why Chesterton is such a great writer - because he's a tremendous reader. He can read a book and get it. He can read a play and get it. He can read a joke and get it. He can read the signs in the sky and the signs of the times. He can read life - and he can write about it.
One of the ways religion has become a parody of itself in the modern world is because of a basic and simple illiteracy - an inability to read Scripture and understand the very first thing it's saying.
So today's first reading is from Micah 6:1-6. Now normal people are about as fond of the Old Testament as they are of Shakespeare. So I'll help. I'll paraphrase what God is saying through the prophet Micah. You can read Micah 6:1-6 yourself (please do), and you'll see that my paraphrase is pretty accurate. God is saying this ...
OK, if you want to fight, let's fight. You have a beef against me? Fine, let's air it. Let's have a trial - a trial before God and everybody. I'll present my case against you, and you'll present your case against me, and we'll let the hills and valleys listen in.
Here come da judge! The trial begins.
Present your case - what have I done to you? How have I victimized you? Come on, what's your evidence? ANSWER ME!
Oh, I know. I remember what I've done to you. I saved your sorry butt. I dragged you up out of Egypt and freed you from slavery, I gave you leaders, I gave you saviors, I blessed you, I led you, I gave you the land you now possess.
So how do you plan on thanking me? With empty sacrifices, rituals of blood that you can check off a list and walk away from?
You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you - only to do right and love goodness and to walk humbly with your God.
That, pretty much, is what God is saying.
But how does The Word Among Us comment on this reading? What is the "Meditation" presented by them on page 43 of their July / August 2012 publication?
This time I won't paraphrase. I quote verbatim.
When we picture the Last Judgment, we often see a stern-faced God in regal robes. Trembling in terror, each of us is dragged into the courtroom in chains to face the punishment we deserve for all the sins we have committed in our lifetime. We despair of ever scraping together enough to pay whatever fine we feel we must owe.
Suddenly the scene shifts! The stern judge smiles softly and removes his robe. He asks you to step up to the bench, put on the robe, and take the gavel. Then the judge steps down and sits in the docket. “What is your accusation against me?” he asks. “How have I disappointed you?”
You, the former prisoner, are speechless. You dimly remember times you have blamed God for things in your life that didn’t go quite the way you expected, but at the moment, you can’t come up with a single convincing complaint. You are in awe over the fact that God would humble himself so deeply.
“No,” you insist, “I’m the guilty one. Any sentence you impose is more than just. In fact, I can’t think of any punishment that could possibly make up for all my wrongdoing.”
The judge takes up the papers containing the charges against you and stamps them Paid in Full. Despite your objections, he takes out another stamp. Case Dismissed. Then he puts his arm around your shoulders. “Enough of this courtroom drama,” he says. “It wasn’t my idea in the first place. Let’s have a party instead so that we can celebrate your homecoming.”
Gag me with a spoon!
Was this written by Stanford Nutting?
For if you read Micah 6:1-6 and get the drivel that the editors of The Word Among Us get out of it, you simply don't know how to read.
Are we even trying?
Yes, we're trying. Very trying.