I’m having some trouble with the readings today. They seem to reflect a pretty grim and abstracted judgment.
Both the first and second readings were written to communities scattered or in exile. Luke was writing to a wide-flung audience about 85 ACE. Jeremiah, who lived in a time of great crisis, was writing during the early 600 BCE era when leading citizens of Israel were sent into exile and Jerusalem was in ruin.
In Jeremiah, God complains about the people who have “stiffened their necks.” In Luke, Jesus says, The one who is not with me is against me. The one who does not gather with me scatters.
It’s sort of like saying to children, “the bogyman’s going to get you if you aren’t good.” Is it any wonder people turn away from organized religion when judgment is leveled against us while at the same time we are exhorted not to judge?
My experience of the holy has a peace and a comfort and a clarity. The judgment I’ve experienced in my life also come from within when I make judgments against others.
How do we reconcile the contradictions? Do we become cafeteria-Christians, taking only that which appeals to our tastes; or do we become connoisseurs, learning, testing, using ingredients with care?
Every Lent, it seems, if we’re paying attention, we get to review and recommit to this journey. Over and over. Are we with? Are we against? Sometimes we’re both at the same time.
Are tension and anger, judgment and righteousness replacing compassion and peace? Today might be a good day for us to recommit to the journey, recommit to peace, and remember, once again, to use our life-ingredients with care.