instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, September 24, 2007

Q & A with the LORD

An oracle:
Q. How have you loved us?

A. Was not Esau Jacob's brother? yet I loved Jacob, but hated Esau; I made his mountains a waste, his heritage a desert for jackals.

Q. How have we polluted Your altar?

A. By saying the table of the LORD may be slighted!

Q. Why is it You no longer regard our sacrifice or accept it favorably from our hands?

A. Because I AM witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have broken faith though she is your companion, your betrothed wife.

Q. How have we wearied You?

A. By your saying, "Every evildoer is good in the sight of the LORD, and He is pleased with him"; or else, "Where is the just God?"

Q. How do we rob You?

A. In tithes and in offerings!

Q. What have we spoken against You?

A. You have said, "It is vain to serve God, and what do we profit by keeping his command, and going about in penitential dress in awe of the LORD of hosts? Rather must we call the proud blessed; for indeed evildoers prosper, and even tempt God with impunity."
All in all, not a cheery interview with which to wrap up the Old Testament. (The NAB suggests scribes repeated a (relatively) cheerful verse at the very end of the book, so as not to end on the note, "Lest I come and strike the land with doom.")

Still, I think much the same interview could occur now, with the "we" being the members of the Catholic Church (not all her members, I hasten to add).

The answer to the first question is analogous to the insistence in recent years on the unique nature of both Christ and His Church. Slighting the table of the LORD could be understood liturgically, but also in terms of how much individual Catholics sacrifice of themselves to God. Saying God is pleased with every evildoer recalls the "I'm a good person" argument that has been made in both formal and informal ways. And speaking against God in the way He decries is always a temptation when He doesn't meet our personal standards of justice.