Monday, September 22, 2014

Come to the Light

The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but the dwelling of the just he blesses; when dealing with the arrogant, he is stern, but to the humble he shows kindness.  Proverb 3:33-34

“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.  For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.”  Luke 8:16-17

You are the light of the world!
But if that light is under a bushel,
It's lost something kind of crucial
You've got to stay bright to be the light of the world. (From Godspell)

Our lessons for this week began with the “illogical” and un-businesslike Good News on Sunday about the landowner who paid all workers the same wage whether they worked for a full day or a full hour.  That does not make any business-sense whatsoever.  Yet, Isaiah reminded us in that first reading that God’s ways are not our ways, and our ways are not God’s ways.

Today, in proverbs and Luke, the message makes more sense…or at least it seems to make more sense if you are not among the arrogant, powerful or wicked.  Those who know the Magnificat expect the Lord to bless the dwelling place of the just person.  We expect the Lord – based on the message throughout sacred scripture – to show kindness to the humble who puts on the attitude of Mary. 

In the newspaper scandal business, there is an expression, “If it looks like you’ve got something to hide, it’s going to look like you’ve got something to hide.”  That was true in the Genesis story of Cain and Able.  That was true in the scandal of Judas.  When their actions became public, they could no longer live in the light.  Their wicked actions became visible. 

The opposite also is true:  “If it looks like you have nothing to hide, it’s going to look like you have nothing to hide.” That’s why the just and humble do not want to put their light under a bushel.  If you keep your light hidden, you have lost something mighty crucial:  the ability to live by example and show the world the path of the just and humble. We must grow the way the “rules” or proverbs point and not stray.  The friendship of Jesus rests with the person who leads an upright life. 

When you study the word “rule,” you see that it comes from the Latin word “regula” which means to “move in a straight line.”  It was the opposite of secular.  English borrowed Latin regula and nativized it as regal "rule, regulation, canon, law, standard, pattern."  When we grow according to a rule, we grow in the straight path, like a vine which grows up a trellis compared with a vine that grows wild in the woods.  

As the song goes, the tallest candlestick is no good without a (straight and upright) wick.

Since the days of Richard Nixon, the private-life scandals and hubris of our leaders are now fair game for public examination.  Think about Gary Hart’s Monkey Business.  Think about Bill Clinton’s you-know-what.  The path we must stay on is the path of justice, humility, and following the rules…the rule of law, the rule of God, the Rule of St. Benedict. 

What do you need to straighten out in your life?  Take some time to assess what is right and what needs “fixing.”  No need to wait for the New Year to make a resolution to change.

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