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What goes around, comes around.

Lenten meditations on justice and peace

Monday, March 9

Readings: Daniel 9:4-10, Luke 6:36-38

From the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew) to the Sermon on the Plain (Luke), the readings this Lent bring us close to the teachings of Jesus and the commands of God regarding our interpersonal relationships.

Forgive, and you will be forgiven, give and gifts will be given to you. And these are not just any old miserly gifts. These are good measures, packed together, shaken down, overflowing even, so much that it runs out of the container onto your lap. If this is what you want to receive, it is what you must give.

Sounds a lot like welfare reform, right? Not in this universe. Who has not sinned against these words on many occasions! What structures of sin have been created by these sins! We judge without mercy and condemn the poor as degenerate parasites who are lazy, stupid, and responsible for their own plight, while we destroy their housing and convert their neighborhoods into convention centers and playgrounds for the rich and powerful. Then we move our families to gated developments in the suburbs.

We give those kind of people free birth control and encourage abortions so that there will be fewer of them in the future. When someone ahead of us in line pays with food stamps, we sneer and gather our skirts of self-righteousness about us so that we won't be contaminated by the Other who is before us, naked and bleeding from every wound.

The gifts we give are framed in cold and impersonal bureaucratic nightmares, with plenty of poli-tricks to keep everybody guessing as to when the other shoe is gonna fall and who's gonna be hurt this time.

For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.

That's what it says. Read those words again, and if a touch of honest fear doesn't hit you, as a taxpaying, voting citizen of any one of over 200 different countries on this planet, read them again and realize that they apply right now, in the year of our Lord 1998, on Planet Earth, Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy, to me and you and everybody else.

And for some, such as those of us who are citizens of the major military and economic super-imperial-powers, a/k/a "The Rich", they should provide incentive for evangelism and catechesis and orthopraxis on a massive scale.

For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.

Israel once thought it was hot stuff too. Kings and queens brought tribute to Jerusalem. Its societies developed great disparities of power and wealth, extorted from the masses of harshly oppressed poor. Storm clouds appeared on the horizon, God sent prophets to warn of on-coming doom, nobody paid any attention. "The Temple of the Lord", they cried, "We have the Temple of the Lord. Nobody can touch us." But the day came when an enemy camped about them and their walls were breached, the Temple was destroyed, and the common people and aristocracy alike were led out through the rubble, linked together by chains with sharp hooks thrust through their noses.

Judah watched it happen to Israel, and learned nothing from the experience. So now Daniel is an exile in Babylon and his reading today is a prayer of confession and repentance for his sins and the corporate sins of his people. What was their problem? Same as ours -- treachery, indifference, wilful disobedience to God's law, refusal to listen to the prophets, oppression of the poor -- a/k/a "the Usual Suspects". Only, we have about 10,000 years of written history plus God's revealed Word plus the teaching of the Church and we still don't get it.

For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.

Or as they say on the street, What goes around, comes around.

Prayer intentions today:

+ For the children throughout the world who remain at risk of death this week from war or economic chaos, we pray the Angelus in Time of War ( http://www.justpeace.org/angelus.htm ).

+ For the intentions of the Holy Father for March, especially that human rights will be respected everywhere.

Praxis today:

+ Make phone calls or write letters seeking information about the just practices of your local parish or diocese.

+ If you are being blessed by this series of Lenten meditations, refer them to a friend or member of your family.

+ Preach the Gospel; if necessary, it's OK to use words.

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