Saturday, November 23, 2013

Punishment of consequences

Today's first reading is the kind of thing that some Christians want to reject on one extreme and on others over-emphasize. The reading ends with the King Antiochus saying:

But I now recall the evils I did in Jerusalem, when I carried away all the vessels of gold and silver that were in it, and for no cause gave orders that the inhabitants of Judah be destroyed. I know that this is why these evils have overtaken me; and now I am dying, in bitter grief, in a foreign land.

Those who want to reject such imagery claim that God loves us and wouldn't bring evil on people. They would be half right.

God never brings evil. We believe all good things come from God. And one of those good things is consequences. Every action for good or bad that we commit brings with it consequences not just for ourselves but for others.

Beginning with Genesis we believe that we are all part of a single humanity, connected to one another. Christians even more so because we are all part of the one body of Christ. Therefore, everything I do affects every other member of the body, whether we see it or not.

Antiochus led his greed and quest for power lead him to try and conquer not only the Jews but the Persians as well. God did not punish him God allowed him the freedom of will that we all have, but then God also allowed him to suffer the consequences of his actions.

Very good parent must occasionally allow their children to learn the hard way. Does the parent enjoy it? Of course not. But some children refuse to learn any other way.

God is the perfect parent,
always ready to help, but not enable bad behavior
always ready to forgive, but forgiveness does not mean there are no consequences

The good news is that I don't have to, unless I chose to, make my choices alone. The Holy Spirit is always with me to help me in the process, but I have to be willing to listen. Sometimes that means I have to slow down and think, because there may be ramifications not just for myself but for many others, in even the small choices of life.