Henry: Get somebody else.
Undertaker: Nobody else will drive it! So here.
Chris: Oh, hell! If that´s all that´s holding things up, l´ll drive the rig.
The Magnificent Seven 1960
One of the most often asked questions has been why does God allow bad things to happen? Why does he allow evil things and evil people to exist?
There are many theories the most common one & reasonable one being that bad thing also bring out virtue as people rise to the occasion but there a much better answer comes from today’s Mass readings the first of which many of our protestant friends might have missed as it comes from the Book of Wisdom, which they removed when breaking away:
Before the LORD the whole universe is as a grain from a balance
or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.
But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things;
and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent.
For you love all things that are
and loathe nothing that you have made;
for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.
And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?
But you spare all things, because they are yours,
O LORD and lover of souls,
for your imperishable spirit is in all things!
Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little,
warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing,
that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O LORD!
One of the basic tenets of Christianity is God’s love of his creation, or as it is often described: Loving the sinner but not the sin. In this passage it talks of God moving slowly not by force but “warning”, and “reminding” the of sin, never excusing it, but always trying to help the sinner change direction.
The second reading of the week from 2 Thessalonians is a perfect complement to it
Brothers and sisters: We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose and every effort of faith, that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ. We ask you, brothers and sisters, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling with him, not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly, or to be alarmed either by a "spirit," or by an oral statement, or by a letter allegedly from us to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand.
Consider the first half of the passage, it’s all about praying for people with the goal of bringing people to be brought to the ways of the lord. Emphasizing again the grace of God.
Then see the 2nd half warning against people trying to create a drastic fear to try and force a conversion, an excellent answer to every single doomsday cult that has come up over the centuries who have either conned people out of their possessions or even worse tricked them into thinking they have a faith they do not and then when reality strikes destroying it.
And finally we have this week’s Gospel from Luke that completes the package:
At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
“Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.”
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
“He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
“Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor,
and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over.”
And Jesus said to him,
“Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost.”
We have Christ not only defying convention and expectation by dining with a well known sinner but reminding the self-righteous what his entire mission is.
Think about it. What would have happened if God had, as he was sinning and extorting simply decided, forget it, he’s not worth my salvation, or the time and effort to bring him around?
But also consider Zacchaeus. He wasn’t seeking redemption, he wasn’t seeking conversion, he went to see Christ out of sheer curiosity and I suspect nobody was more surprised at his conversion than he was.
I tried to write off the experience as misfiring synapses, but I couldn’t shake it. When I returned to New York a few days later, I was lost. I suddenly felt God everywhere and it was terrifying. More important, it was unwelcome. It felt like an invasion. I started to fear I was going crazy.
I didn’t know what to do, so I spoke with writer Eric Metaxas, whom I had met through my boyfriend and who had talked with me quite a bit about God. “You need to be in a Bible study,” he said. “And Kathy Keller’s Bible study is the one you need to be in.” I didn’t like the sound of that, but I was desperate. My whole world was imploding. How was I going to tell my family or friends about what had happened? Nobody would understand. I didn’t understand. (It says a lot about the family in which I grew up that one of my most pressing concerns was that Christians would try to turn me into a Republican.)
I remember walking into the Bible study. I had a knot in my stomach. In my mind, only weirdoes and zealots went to Bible studies. I don’t remember what was said that day. All I know is that when I left, everything had changed. I’ll never forget standing outside that apartment on the Upper East Side and saying to myself, “It’s true. It’s completely true.” The world looked entirely different, like a veil had been lifted off it. I had not an iota of doubt. I was filled with indescribable joy.
God doesn’t throw people away he finds the of value and will spend till their very last minute of their lives to call them.
And he doesn’t ask their voter registration when he does it.