If you want a one-word summary
of the readings today,
may I suggest that word be Justice?
Moses saw God in the Burning Bush—
it was a moment of personal conversion for him.
But right away God told him what it was for:
You will go and lead my people out of slavery!
Justice means “to each his due”:
So, if I go to confession, and I admit,
“I spread a false story about someone”—
justice requires I do something to repair that:
to correct the facts.
Justice means we recognize our relationship to others.
One of the flaws of our society
is that we are so individual-focused
that we forget about the common good.
How often do we first ask, not, “is it good for me,” but:
Is this good for the community?
An example would be changing the Mass schedule.
Last week, I had an insert in the bulletin,
alerting you to the need, at some point, to deal with this.
I appreciate all the responses, pro and con.
I had one conversation where someone said,
“oh, don’t cut that Mass…”—
well, then, what about this one?
“No, not that one, either…” and so it went.
So I smiled, and said,
“Tell me—how do I cut the Mass schedule
without cutting any Masses?”
And he smiled. He understood.
But some folks haven’t been smiling.
“Change someone else’s—not mine!”
For example, if we move the 7 am Mass
from St. Boniface to St. Mary—that will be a big change.
But the only practical alternative
is to have three Masses at one parish,
and only one, at the other.
And I believe that will do damage to the parish
that has only one; and that will damage our whole effort.
See the problem? Can we make some sacrifice,
for the sake of the well-being of the whole community?
That’s the common good.
While we give energy to the Mass schedule,
our local community, and our world,
face far bigger problems.
That first reading reminds us
that when people are oppressed—God hears their cries!
On Judgment Day, he will ask if we heard them—
and what we did about it.
In Darfur, in Africa, folks are being targeted for death;
and the world’s leaders just wring their hands!
We’re in a mess in Iraq; some say, just leave, now.
Might be better for us, but would it be better for Iraq?
That I don’t know, and I don’t know who does know!
But I would argue that our leaders should be guided,
not only by what’s good for our own nation,
but by the common good of the whole world.
At home, we have many opportunities to work for justice.
Many of us are involved in the prolife cause—
because if human life isn’t safe, what other rights are?
The Church calls us to avoid use of the death penalty;
not because the criminals don’t deserve it;
but because we are better off, as a society,
if we kill fewer people, rather than more.
How we respond to the poor is also a question of justice:
do we insist that our politicians actually work
to lift people out of poverty?
Are we pushing them enough to create jobs?
While we work for larger solutions,
what can we do, now, as individuals?
Here is something very practical we can all do:
When you eat out, or have a pizza delivered—
leave a good tip!
That may not seem like a big thing;
but it’s within our reach. We can do that, today.
The final words of the Gospel today
are both a word of hope—but also warning.
The gardener in the parable is the Lord himself;
if he chops at the ground around us, if he prunes us,
how do we react? “Ow, that hurts! I don’t want change!
Go somewhere else!”
His purpose is that we repent; that we change our lives;
we deepen our roots in the Lord, and our nourished,
through prayer, through confession, the Eucharist.
If we will not bear fruit; we will be cut down;
but he’d rather we do bear fruit—especially for others.