instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Look who's talking

It's hard to read these words and not think of the chief priests, with the scribes and ancients, plotting against Jesus:
Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.
St. Matthew, for one, seems to have picked up on the similarities.

But wait a moment. The speech in Wisdom 2 is put into the mouths of "the wicked" who didn't "count on a recompense of holiness nor discern the innocent souls' reward." The chief priests, with the scribes and ancients, were not materialists and hedonists; they (or at least most of them) believed in the resurrection of the just. And no one thinks of the Pharisees as "gather ye rosebuds while ye may" types.

Here we're faced with one of the great risks of reading Holy Scripture: one moment, you're cheering the downfall of the wicked, and the next you're realizing that the wicked is us.

Not always, maybe, and not in every way. We may not literally condemn many people to a shameful death; we may not even put people to the test that we may have proof of their gentleness and try their patience.

But if we are reproached or charged with violations of our training, do we react with self-righteousness? Do we know without reflection that the charges are false because... well, because they're directed at us?

If nothing else, this speech should teach us that being religious is no guarantee against being blind.