Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
Human beings have a tendency to think that, to quote a famous African American spiritual, "nobody knows the trouble I've seen." One might name it the "poor me" syndrome. That tendency or syndrome might be extended to a group of people or a specific time in history. How many or how frequently do we lapse into the conversation about the "Good Ol' Days." Sometimes this tendency might be brought on by a chronic state of depression. Sometimes it is just a matter of self pity. Some might call it "bad karma." Given an opening, such things tend to become the fodder of our daily interaction with people. How many "organ recitals" (medical reports) have you listened to? How many times have you been asked to commiserate with someone who thinks they are the next Job.
It is for this reason that I particularly enjoy reading stories like the one that appears in today's passage from the First Book of Kings, the story of Naboth the Jezeerelite and his encounter with Ahab and Jezebel. Obviously, the sacred writer wanted to convey the wickedness of royal pair. However, for me the story has a second purpose; it reminds me that, in the words of another sacred writer from a later time, there is nothing new under the sun. Human beings have been dealing with wickedness, disease, chaos, political oppression, insurrections, persecutions (and the list could go on) ever since the beginning. It isn't any worse today than it was yesterday. Our situation is no different than any other. There have always been the guys that wear the black hats trying to outgun the guys wearing the white hats. If anything or any story is a myth, it is the story of how things used to be better.
However, there is something else that it is a universal truth. God is in charge; God will prevail. Though human history is punctuated with stories of the wicked persecuting the upright, our faith tells us that human history is but a speck in the eye of God. The Scriptures attest to this truth over and over and over again. Every morning when the Church gathers to pray it recalls this fact: Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and brought redemption to his people. He has raised up a horn for our salvation within the house of David his servant, even as he promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old: salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. (Luke 1:68-71) Every time we open the words of the Gospel we hear Jesus proclaim: Do not be afraid; just have faith. (Mark 5:36c) Every time we think that evil will overcome good, we recall the words of St. Paul who, just yesterday, reminded us: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil. (Corinthians 5:10)