The Rt. Rev. Arthur E. Walmsley
Genesis 28:10-19a; Psalm 139:1-12,23-24; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place –and
I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! It is none
other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
The cases of great figures cut down to size function as civic morality tales because, however good most people are most of the time, temptation is universal. Lust, greed, ambition, envy, fear – choose one. Or three. Every human must navigate the triple labyrinth of animal impulse, rational awareness, and moral choice. No one is immune from the recognition to which St. Paul came: “For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7: 19) It takes nothing away from the gravity of criminal acts, or the unacceptability of the exploitation by the powerful of the weak, to see in the courtroom contest between truth and deceit a process that implicates observers as well as antagonists.
But the public search for the tie between choice and consequence, which is, after all, the meaning of both morality and law, goes to deeper questions. How does character shape action? Do we get what we deserve? We imagine that those who are well known are somehow unlike us, that fame and wealth and power are instruments of control over destiny. When we obsess about their foibles, follies, accidents, crimes, and tragedies, we are working to let go of illusions about ourselves. Fallibility, contingency, foolishness, self-deceit – welcome to the human condition. What alone redeems it, and makes it noble, is the truth, which, despite the oath, is never whole, always mixed. Therefore the story is unending. That is why – duhn-duhn! – we never get enough of law and order.
James Carroll, 11 June
So whenever you love someone, remember that God was there first, and your love for that someone is a shared love. You always share your love for that person with God.
-Br. Robert L’Esperance