Justice, servant leadership, metanoia, reconciliation.

November 8, 1999: Wisdom 1, 1-7 + Luke 17, 1 - 6

November 9, 1999: Wisdom 2, 23 - 3, 9 + Luke 17, 7-10

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These two days have is an interesting convergence of feasts, readings, and memorials. On November 9, 1938, the German Nazi's burned 191 synagogues, destroyed 7500 Jewish businesses, arrested 25,000 Jewish men, & shipped half of them to Buchenwald. It gets its name from the shattered glass of the windows on the ground. Ellsberg's "All Saints" says that the next day, there was little protest in Germany or abroad, and the organizers of the raids congratulated themselves on a job well done.

The lectionary reading for the Tuesday of the 32nd week of Ordinary Time, which this year falls on November 9th, is from the book of Wisdom, and it says that "the souls of the just are in the hands of God and no torment shall touch them. . . " It is one of the traditional texts appointed for reading at funeral masses and services. November 9th is also the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall, a major milestone of the journey of the Soviet Empire towards the ash heap of history. Both the Nazi and the Soviet empires were responsible for the deaths of many millions of people, men, women, and children slaughtered unjustly.

The reading for the 8th begins the book of Wisdom with an exhortation to justice -- "Love justice, you who judge the earth. . . because into a soul that plots evil wisdom enters not. . . for the holy spirit of discipline flees deceit and withdraws from senseless counsel; and when injustice occurs it is rebuked." The end of this pericope, although not in the reading, bears remembrance: "For justice is undying." It's a good reminder, given the bi-partisan leadership of the United States.

Jesus speaks about the sad state of those who create structures of sin that bring wickedness, violence, and death. It would be better to suffer the fate of being drowned at sea with a millstone tied around your neck than to encourage one of these "little ones" to sin. We who live in the midst of an economy rooted in the glorification of the seven deadly sins should ponder these words.

Jesus also leads us on the path of the Little Way, if our faith is only the size of a mustard seed, it will be enough to do mighty things. As you may know, the mustard seed is very tiny. We are called to be our brother's and sister's keeper, to call them back from the edge upon which they stand, and to be ever ready to extend forgiveness and be reconciled. The reading from the 9th is a call to servant leadership, always a difficult thing for us in a "winning through intimidation" society to hear. There's so much noise and static one has to listen carefully and intentionally.

61 years after Kristallnach, on the eve of the 2nd Christian millennium, problems of race, class, and ethnicity continue to disturb the peace and safety of too many people. Ten years after the opening of the Berlin Wall, another great and mighty empire is headed for the same ash heap on which rests the Soviet Union, and for many of the same reasons -- materialistic ideology, corrupt political economy, overextended military commitments, willing commission of injustice against the poor to further the economic and/or political interests of the ruling authorities and privileged classes. As Confucius said, "Without justice, the state is simply organized crime."

Many different threads, but all parts of the same cloth. Justice, servant leadership, reconciliation, forgiveness, the call to metanoia -- and a reminder: it is the souls of the just that are in the hands of God.

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