It seems to me that the basic question these scripture readings
pose is: With whom do you identify?
When I was in early grade school, my family lived on Lafayette Street
just down the hill and to the east of 72nd street. It was a great
little neighborhood: lots of kids playing all the time. All the
mothers in my part of the neighborhood warned us kids about the
“bad boys” who lived down the street a bit. “Stay
away from them. They’re trouble!” So, not only did we
stay away from them, not only were we fascinated by what was “bad”
about them, we all learned a lesson in assigning some the role of
We see that in the first reading. Now, I for one, am very uncomfortable
with identifying with those “bad people” who are planning
the downfall of the just one. I’m supposed to avoid them.
That’s the problem with Lent. It puts scripture readings out
there that just beg each of us to identify with the tormentors of
the just one. But, that’s not possible. I avoid those kind
I must say, however, that now that I’ve been rector of the
Jesuit Community here at Creighton for six months, I keep discovering
things about myself in relationship to members of the community.
I see from time to time that I channel my “inner tyrant”
when confronted with this or that attitude or behavior. Dang! Or,
under the auspices of this first reading today, I recognize that
my “inner tormentor” also plays out while “not
discerning the innocent soul’s reward.”
Some of you may recall the last time I wrote, way back in January.
It was about Jesus reading from the scroll of Isaiah in the synagogue
about (key line) “send on mission those who have been crushed.”
Look at today’s psalm!
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. The
LORD is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed
in spirit he saves. Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him.
I believe that God calls me / us to recognize the divine closeness,
even when being “crushed” by the weight of my / our
sinfulness. Perhaps God delivers us from pretending that we are
the opposite of the “bad boys.”