The wages of sin is death.

October 21, 1999

Romans 6, 19-23 + Luke 12, 49-53

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Like I've been saying, we are building structures of Arrogance, Exploitation, Oppression, and Violence, or we are building structures of Beauty, Wisdom, Love, and Goodness. These structures are constructed of a myriad individual acts that reinforce each other spiraling upwards -- or downwards, as the case may be. Beside the Jordan River, with the tribes of Israel, we are invited to choose life or choose death. We are with Hezekiah reading the book of Deuteronomy to the people. And we are back to the Jordan River for the baptism of John. The wages of sin are death, that's pretty much it.

Paul makes the astute observation that the culture of death promises a lot more than it delivers. What is there of it that truly satisfies? The Cup that is offered to us, however, is never empty, it continually overflows allowing all to drink of its freely offered grace.

Jesus again reminds us that actions have consequences, and his Message is not exempt. Those who profit from the structures of Arrogance, Exploitation, Oppression, and Violence will defend them. There will be a refining fire.

It is a characteristic of the culture of death that it is very seductive. There is very green grass -- over there -- it says to us, come on and take just a little taste, it won't hurt. Great evil may not be obvious in its initial forays in our lives. There is the "Everybody is Doing It" argument, which works with all seven of the capital sins -- pride, lust, covetousness, envy, gluttony, sloth and anger. Today's readings remind us of both the need for conversion and the sometimes turbulent effect it can have.

Thoughts on orthopraxis: How do we respond to division caused by an evangelical change in our ways of living? In what ways does the culture of death beckon to us, inviting us to get on the 'everybody's doing it' bandwagon.

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