Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Morning Meditation #112: Of What Does Justice Consist?

A difficult weekend capped my difficult week. I almost never bring work home for the weekend. I am categorically against doing that. The weekend is my time with family and God. I will work very late into the evening, sometimes as late as midnight, in order to get all my work done and avoid bringing homework home. (Hm, I thought homework ended with one's school days, but clearly this is not the case.) So, after working until nearly midnight on Friday, I ended up with, sigh!, lots and lots of homework for the weekend. That left little time for anything this weekend except Mass on Saturday at our town's little mission you see here and on Sunday with Doah at a larger church in a nearby city, where he lives, and work, work, work. I am delighted, therefore, to find a few minutes for meditation Monday morning prior to the start of another brutal week.

The reading this week comes from the second chapter of Micah. It appears that this book is going to be rich in thought-provoking readings. At the beginning of this chapter, it is written:
1 Woe to those who plan iniquity,
   to those who plot evil on their beds!
At morning’s light they carry it out
   because it is in their power to do it.
2 They covet fields and seize them,
   and houses, and take them.
They defraud people of their homes,
   they rob them of their inheritance.
About this situation, God says that it cannot go on forever. He will ensure justice:
 “I am planning disaster against this people,
   from which you cannot save yourselves.
You will no longer walk proudly,
   for it will be a time of calamity.
4 In that day people will ridicule you;
   they will taunt you with this mournful song:
‘We are utterly ruined;
   my people’s possession is divided up.
He takes it from me!
   He assigns our fields to traitors.’”
Oh, how like so many situations we encounter millennia later!

Reading: Micah 2

Meditation: These verses remind me of the question that my first-year confirmation students ask me in our religious education classes. First, they want to know the converse of the question raised and answered in these verses: Why do bad things happen to good people? (I have written about that topic at length on this blog and in my various publications.) Then, thinking a little longer on this topic, they want to know: Why do good things happen to bad people? I suppose most of us get a little irritated at times when those who do not love God or each other seem to be the ones who get ahead in this world. Why is God favoring these people, we wonder?

Micah poses what to me is an acceptable response. They are not being graced with anything special. They are taking it for themselves. Ultimately, if the continue to ignore and disrespect God, they will get their comeuppance. It is not up to us to judge them; God will judge them in His good time.

That is one part of the answer. Another part, it seems to me, can be presented through another question: Just what is it that they are receiving that we want? Getting ahead in this world? Is it this world where we want to be recognized and accepted and to which we contribute and for which contributions we are rewarded or is it that world, the Kingdom of God? Does it really matter how well another seems to fare in the Kingdom of Man? Of what is there to be envious in that case? I know how I would answer that question -- there is nothing for which to be envious. Let the rich have their earthly riches. It is the heavenly riches -- those that often appear in the form of poverty -- that bring the greatest blessings and, if we allow, the greatest joy.

Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I now retire to private prayer to praise God a kingdom in which the last are first and the first last. I will ask forgiveness for ever even thinking that getting ahead in this world in and of itself is something for which to strive. I will also ask God to remind me, whenever needed, which kingdom is the important one. Then I will move on to contemplation, my favorite part of the day, letting God take over the direction in which my relationship with Him moves.

I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:

Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I think you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too, as do readers of this blog who have taken the stroll over to his blog.)

For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.

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