Why the Evil Thrive
#WhyEvilThrive is the podcast for February 24, 2019, the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. This is why God still gives to people who hate him. Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Luke #Luke6 #Love #Mercy #ThoseWhoHear
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For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Fr. Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 2/24/2019 The 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 6:27-38.
Why does God allow the wicked and the selfish to have blessings? You know what I am talking about. Those of us who are good, who share our toys, do the right thing, don’t take more than we really need, etc. etc., we are living pay check to pay check. Our kids are rebellious. We live in what would be called a modest house if we could only make the repairs that we have to ignore every day. Right? Don’t you have that bathroom you wish you could remodel, the floor you wish you could replace, the furnace that is hanging by a thread? Yet, the person who would cheat her own mother is wearing Prada. Well, that is at least how it seems.
There are two answers to this age old question. The first is that we are like God, but God is not like us. I will get to the second answer in a minute.
As I remind us always, we are on a small planet, in a big solar system, in a very large galaxy, in an enormous universe, outside of God. Remember, God is Spirit. He is not subject to the regular rules of physics. He is both inside and outside of the universe. He can be intimate and far away, um, at the same time.
If you haven’t noticed, we cannot do that. Sometimes we can’t get out of our own heads let alone be intimate with someone else or take a broader view of things. We are either/or. Oh, sure we are like the Father in heaven, in that we have great intellect and we have figured out how to do things like travel in a small portion of space with space craft that we have used all of our brain power to make sure works. We have great will and can alleviate the effects of the Great Depression or can kill millions in a Shoa. It is God who has an intellect that does not kill and does not wish to do so. He is truly “above it all.”
It is in this way that God has a better vantage point than we do to understand one central fact, evil or good, we are all human beings. We are all fragile on a certain level. We are all subject to death. We can only see life from the small planet. The Lord sees the larger perspective-what the whole universe needs. When we on the small planet are consumed by the prideful notion that we know better than the God outside the universe that is called ‘original sin.’
This is the first reason why God blesses the evil, because we can only see justice from our own perspective and not the grand scheme of God’s justice. We are the ones who divide and parse. We are the accumulators. God is the gift giver. We have a hard time seeing that God’s justice is also called “mercy.” So, the first reason is that God’s perspective includes all and not just us.
This leads to the second reason. The second reason is that God loves.
Do you remember when God finished creation? After he created humans, he looked at the whole project and said, “It is very good”? Like a Father who has mercy on his children the Lord sees us and cannot help but bless us. I could be wrong, but I am not in doubt: my running theory is that the evil and selfish look like they have more because they don’t give it away. Those who are kind and generous give it away a little at a time. Those who know God give it away.
Jesus is telling us in the sermon on the plain from the Gospel of Luke that to be a Christian is not to see the world only from one’s self interest. It would be in our interest to hold grudges, hit people back, hurt them before they hurt you again, curse them to get your pound of flesh, and various other ways of the world. To be of the earth is to love the self in an unhealthy way. You see yourself as the only thing that is important: your status, your house, your money, your needs. To be a Christian, you understand yourself as worthy of love as part of everyone else who is worthy of love. There is a humility that sees yourself as you are: loveable, but not exclusively loveable.
Jesus starts this passage out with, “I say to you who hear.” Those who truly hear God know that the way of God is not one of retribution. He gives blessings to the wicked and selfish, even though they do not do what he wants them to do. It is because the way of God is not to seek justice as much as it is to seek to love. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not insist on its own way. Love bears all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
The second answer is that the reason that the wicked and selfish are blessed is because He loves even them.
Where was it along the way that we decided that being faithful was a quid pro quo? Where did we get this notion that if I am good God will love me? Where did we get the notion that if we are good we will go to heaven? This stuff is just garbage. It is a way to put ourselves in the driver seat. We get to decide if we have been good enough. We get to decide who is good enough and deserves our mercy. We get to decide, get to decide, get to decide…and there it is: we are claiming that we know better than God himself.
We are faithful because God is the truth. He has revealed himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. We have had an encounter with him and remain in him in the Eucharist Sunday to Sunday. We read his word and pray, not to make others better, but to make ourselves more like him. We are to have the same overview that a Father who loves us among all his children has. That view is about abundance and generosity.
God did not create the universe for himself and stop. He gave it to us to share. He did not leave us in our sin, he sent Moses, the Ten Commandments, prophet after prophet, and then his Son. He gave even his only son to die for us to lead us to salvation. Who here would even give their worst acting child to die for the world?
The love from God is a radical thing. It causes us to love our enemies, pray for those who abuse us and persecute us. It causes us to give to everyone who begs from us without worrying about where they are going to spend the money. We are to be merciful and not stingy. We “who hear” are to live this way.
Frankly, I am not thrilled with this plan. If God had asked me, I would prefer an eye for an eye if it were not for one thing: the measure with which we measure will be used on us. Wouldn’t we want mercy? Wouldn’t we want people to be generous to us? Wouldn’t we want people to forgive us, include us, reach out to us?
It was when I paid attention and was ready to hear that the Lord blesses the wicked and the selfish that it all made sense to me: God is love. Not like we love, selectively, but pure love. God is love that loves even the unlovable. That should change our perspective on everything. The wicked and selfish may have much, but they lack one thing, the enjoyment of a relationship with the living God. He is the more excellent way. We who love him, also love those he loves, which means we love everyone, especially when it hurts. Sorta’ like the guy who hurt on the Cross. Amen.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian