Pentecost 6B, July 16, 2006
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. That observation by Edmund Burke over 200 years ago could easily have been based on today's gospel reading. Did you notice the silence? Herod the king had an ear for public opinion and catered to its approval. He had arrested John the Baptist because John's public remarks about the king's marriage were not good for his image. Locked up in jail, John quickly became old news and no further threat. Out of sight and out of mind was good enough for Herod. He also recognized that John was a holy man. Herod came to John's prison cell to listen in private to the prophet's words. But Herod's wife was not satisfied. Herod had to protect his prisoner from his wife's fury. And then came the day of the party. It was a grand affair with the nobility and the other leaders of
It is an unusual reading for a Sunday morning—especially as we gather to baptize
By our charity we do much good for the victims of evil, but each day brings new victims. We cannot stop the world's evil with charity alone. Disarming a man with a knife is better than simply bandaging the trail of victims he leaves behind him. We cannot oppose that evil with silence. The powers that be in our age are just as likely to follow popular opinion as was Herod. With the advantages of opinion polls and focus groups, modern politicians and other decision-makers are more accurate than ever in knowing what the people think.
And thinking is the essential first step in living out our baptismal promises. We need to make the effort to be informed. The well-known monkey trio who could “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” were not Christians. Of course, the information explosion of today means that none of us alone can possibly know all the places where evil batters human lives. But modern technology does make it easier than ever for us to get the news when evil launches a new attack on human beings and other elements of God's creation. There are few places on earth today where evil can operate and not be seen. If each of us concentrated our limited time on a single injustice or other evil, then together we could better combat the forces of darkness in our world.
A second logical step is the sharing of information. Many possibilities exist. Some people could write short notes for the Citadel or e-Citadel. Others might put together a program for a Sunday forum between services. Concerns could also be contributed for the Prayers of the People and for the weekly prayer concerns printed in the bulletin each week.
The next step is putting that information to use. Of the numerous forms of action I will just name a few. All of us can pray. We can pray that we resist when evil tempts us. We can pray for the ability to recognize evil when it disguises itself and pretends to be good. We can pray for courage to confront evil despite our fears. We can pray that all leaders and decision-makers might be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and work for peace, justice and human dignity.
We can also talk to people we meet in an informed way. If we become passionate about a specific evil and can show how it affects the lives of others in God's family, we will be far more persuasive than if we just repeat “it's wrong, wrong, wrong.”
We can write to officials in government and business. All of them have some sensitivity to popular opinion and they ignore it at their peril. But they aren't mind readers. Aiming brainwaves toward
We can support organizations whose purpose is increasing peace, justice and human dignity in the world. In that way our energy and talents are magnified far beyond what any of us could accomplish by ourselves. You need look no further than the most recent issue of Diocesan Life for one such organization. An article there reminds us that last year's diocesan convention re-established the Peace Commission. I am sure they would welcome new faces to their efforts. I am reminded of a song entitled “One Man's Hands.” One man's hands can't tear a prison down, but if two and two and fifty make a million, we'll see that day come round.
Besides living out our own baptismal vows, we have a second obligation, and that is to
Will you persevere in resisting evil? I will, with God's help.
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? I will, with God's help
Will you witnesses do all in your power to support