Trinity 5/Ordinary Time 11 – Tuesday
I have a whole bunch of plaintive, ephemeral jazz playing currently by Brad Mehldau in my Winamp playlist. Plus some cheerful stuff too like his rendition of “Moon River” with his trio.
I don’t really have much to say today. Even though I felt like blogging.
Might leave a few links for you to read. Like the $1 billion dollar dinner (take a punt on which country the dinner was in). Or on whether Brazilian soap operas have shrunk Brazil’s fertility rate. As you can probably tell, I’m a Freakonomics reader (the book and the NY Times blog). I’m an armchair follower of economics-related stuff.
On Christianity related links, Rev. John Piper has put together another good sermon in the 3rd of the series that Bethlehem Baptist Church is running on the Psalms. It’s entitled “A Broken and Contrite Heart God Will Not Despise”.
In more spiritual and temporal matters, yesterday there was a rather unusual juxtaposition of readings both in my vigils office and at the lunchtime Mass at St. John’s Cathedral.
At vigils, the first reading was taken from the book of Judges, beginning at chapter 4, verse 1 continuing through to verse 24. It’s the story of the female judge Deborah making a prophecy about Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite king, Jabin, and how Sisera would find his end after being routed by the men of Barak and the men from the tribe of Naphtali. About finding his end by the hand of a woman (Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite). Who had a tent peg and hammer in her hands. And drove them through his skull while he was sleeping after he drank some milk. He asks for water, she gives him milk. Was the milk laced with poison or an anesthetic? I’m getting all conspiracy theoried up here now. Either way, a potentially painful and messy way to die.
And then the first reading at Mass was from 1 Kings 21:1-16 about King Ahab and his wretched wife, Queen Jezebel stoning Naboth for his vineyard. Those must have been some bloody good grapes that he had growing there! Shiraz? Pinot Noir? Chardonnay? Dammit God, why couldn’t you have been more specific on what grapes he was using! =P
The Gospel reading from Matthew 5:38-42 was then, in the words of the priest celebrating yesterday’s Mass, Rev. Valerie Hoare, somewhat “subversive” in contrast to the first reading and possibly the same for the Responsorial Psalm, Psalm 5.
I had a brief chat with Rev. Hoare and one of the ladies who’s there as a sacristan and altar server, Delroy after Mass and it was something that really stood out yesterday. And given the injustice in the world today in Zimbabwe (that old codger Mugabe still refuses to bow out graciously even after fudging the results), Burma, the Middle East and even in places like Vietnam now where economic progress is causing a lot of damage to those who are the most exposed to price changes while those at the top are doing very well indeed. How do we respond?
Do we do what President Bush did in Iraq and Afghanistan in places like Zimbabwe or Burma (something that has come across my mind when thinking about the suffering their leaders have caused for ordinary folks). So we claim that we have fulfilled all conditions jus ad bellum (the right to go to war) and then act correctly jus ad bello (our conduct after we have entered into a war). Or do we take Christ’s words seriously and commit to Christian pacifism (like one of my heroes Thomas Merton who was a staunch Christian pacifist and as the motto of Benedictines says: “Pax”, peace in Latin) by “turning the other cheek”.
And in the case of the reading from Judges, how can we say that Jael’s act was morally right? Excluding God’s providence, plan/will from the picture, her actions would seem to break the basic commandment of “thou shalt not murder/kill” (you can have a whole argument on whether it is the former or latter word in Exodus 20:13 that could result in someone murdering/killing someone else!). Or was Sisera’s death by Jael’s actions predestined before the beginning of the world as we know it by God or was she acting with a free will within the scope of divine foreknowledge? Kids from EMP MYF Youth Bible Study, you can start laughing now at the P & FW reference… or not.
It’s enough to give me a headache and a longing for a shot of Canadian Club.
On another note, I’ve been finding it rather refreshing to talk with those long-lost friends from Melbourne and Canberra again over MSN. After being really out of contact with each other for so long, now we just seem to be on the same page as soon as we begin talking to each other. No real need to make small talk, but just easy natural conversation with them on the mundane, funny and D&M (that’s “deep & meaningful” for y’all who have no idea what D&M means). I’m really looking forward to catching up with both of them in person next January. And not sleeping at NCYC 2009. Well, probably sleeping very little with the amount of coffee and/or mocktails that the three of us will probably be drinking there. After all, we have 16 years of catching up to do and they have 16 years of giving me crap to catch up on too!