Date: Sunday, October 08, 2017
Our first reading is from the prophet Isaiah. It is ballad or song. Listening to the original Hebrew lyrics we can detect the rhyme and word association. It moves from joy to sadness like a Country Western song. The harvest is near with joyful anticipation of plentiful grapes for wine. Isaiah sings of the owner of the vineyard as his friend who has cleared the fertile hillside of stones, cultivated the soil, planted and pruned the vines but to his dismay the vineyard yields only wild grapes. Now the voice changes to the vintner/owner/God himself who asks whether or not it is fair and tells what he plans to do: take away the hedge, let it be trampled, make it a ruin overgrown with thorns and briers. God “looks for righteousness but see bloodshed; for justice but “hark, the outcry!” Isaiah lives during a time of war and rumors of war, of social injustice but expresses a longing for a mysterious faithful suffering servant who will restore community life and renew Israel/Judah’s covenant with God.
Route 91 Music Festival became a killing field. A place and an occasion of horror. We ask again: “How can these things happen? Why such madness and cruelty?” What happens in Las Vegas does not stay in Las Vegas. We are wounded too. We turn to our 2nd reading searching for some salve or ointment to heal our broken collective hearts. St. Paul, in prison, writes to the Philippians, to have “no anxiety” but make your requests know to God by “prayer and petitions with thanksgiving.” We must cry our outrage to God! Acknowledge the evil, the suffering and pain. But Paul goes on to write to the Church at Philippi to be mindful of what is true and honorable, of what is just and pure, of what is lovely and gracious, of what is excellent and worthy. We too must be aware that in the face of evil there is remarkable goodness, sacrifice, kindness and courage. We must remember who Jesus is and what he did/does for us. “Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
On Thursday evening someone called into the Catholic Radio station and asked why there is evil in the world. The host replied that God allows evil when there is potential for greater good. I turned the radio off. I thought of the Holocaust and our responsibility. Freedom gives human beings the capacity for wickedness. Freedom gives human beings the capacity for dignity and decency.