As much as we might want it to be otherwise, we all know that in our lives and in our world we encounter people who are self-absorbed, who seek to only enrich themselves or enhance their own position and don’t care who they hurt to do so, and some who deliberately work to make others’ lives as miserable as possible. And they plot with others to do the same. Which is to say, there are many broken people who do horrible evil and cause great harm in our world today.
The first reading from the prophet Micah makes no bones about this. The prophet saw first hand what damage a corrupt king and those in power in his own time could do.
But that is only half the story.
The other half is that the prophet sees that God – too – is planning! First, God is planning to highlight their evil in a way that it can’t be ignored. But, and this is the more important message from the Gospel: God is working to lay the groundwork for something better.
Indeed, all the books of the prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures are overflowing with the promise of God to remove social evil and restore the common good. The cry of the psalmist – “Do not forget the poor, O Lord!” includes the awareness that God, of course, never forgets and never relents in caring for his people, especially the poor.
And we see God’s plan unfold in the Gospels. Today’s Gospel from Matthew offers an insight into how Jesus’ approach differs from those whom Micah condemned.
Jesus realizes some of the religious authorities are acting like those leaders in Micah’s time – plotting his death. So he moves on and remains elusive. He continues to teach and heal. He doesn’t seek a confrontation with the Pharisees. He doesn’t shout or get belligerent at their lack of faith. Those things will come, but in their own time. Instead Jesus is busy about implementing God’s plan! He proclaims justice to the poor. He supports the bruised. He keeps the flame of people’s faith in God going strong. And everywhere he goes, he displaces the reign of evil with the Reign of God.
Though we know that Jesus’ opponents will catch up with him and he will endure a terrible suffering at their hands, we also live in the knowledge and grace of his resurrection. We see today how it turns out. They ultimately aren’t able to overcome God’s grace and God’s abundant life given to us in Christ. The reign of evil will be utterly broken.
But not through political machinations. Not through the mechanisms of those who plot evil. This transformation – the transfiguration of our world – will come through the salvation Christ brings, and the living out of that new life in our world – doing as he did – bringing healing, justice, hope and care where people are in pain and all the places in our world where people are hurt by those in power who cannot see the path of humility, self-emptying and service which is God’s plan and Christ’s whole life.
And sometimes, we realize that we, too, can fail to live according to the example of Christ. Sometimes, we, too, even in the Church, can be arrogant or self-absorbed. Pope Francis often reminds all of us who are Catholic to be aware of the ways we sometimes focus too much on our own ways of thinking and acting – instead of on Christ’s mind and actions.
When we celebrate the Eucharist, we acknowledge through the Penitential Act that we frequently fail in living in the way to which Jesus has called us. It is this awareness that fill us with humility and gratitude before Christ who speaks mercifully to us in his Word and becomes present to us in the bread and wine of the altar, to sustain us as food for our spiritual journey. Let us pray for the ability to see ourselves as God does – a God who is aware of our failings, but who invites us to the way of healing and salvation, and to new ways of living in our world, in the presence of the Risen Christ who is always in our midst.
God give you peace!