Sunday, October 26, 2008

God commands compassion

Consider the Sunday mass readings for the 30th week of ordinary time. A positive of the new mass is the additional reading. In most of the old masses, there was an epistle and a Gospel; in the new mass, the first reading is, usually, from the Old Testament. To-day, it is a wonderful one:
"You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry. My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword; then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans. "If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people, you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him. If you take your neighbor's cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body. What else has he to sleep in? If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate. — Exodus xxii. 20-26. NAB

Advenam non contristabis, neque affliges eum: advenæ enim et ipsi fuistis in terra Ægypti. Viduæ et pupillo non nocebitis. Si læseritis eos, vociferabuntur ad me, et ego audiam clamorem eorum: et indignabitur furor meus, percutiamque vos gladio, et erunt uxores vestræ viduæ, et filii vestri pupilli. Si pecuniam mutuam dederis populo meo pauperi qui habitat tecum, non urgebis eum quasi exactor, nec usuris opprimes. Si pignus a proximo tuo acceperis vestimentum, ante solis occasum reddes ei. Ipsum enim est solum, quo operitur, indumentum carnis ejus, nec habet aliud in quo dormiat: si clamaverit ad me, exaudiam eum, quia misericors sum. — Exodus xxii. 21-27.

Thou shalt not molest a stranger*, nor afflict him: for yourselves also were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not hurt a widow or an orphan. If you hurt them, they will cry out to me, and I will hear their cry: And my rage shall be enkindled, and I will strike you with the sword, and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor, that dwelleth with thee, thou shalt not be hard upon them as an extortioner, nor oppress them with usuries.† If thou take of thy neighbour a garment in pledge, thou shalt give it him again before sunset. For that same is the only thing wherewith he is covered, the clothing of his body, neither hath he any other to sleep in: if he cry to me, I will hear him, because I am compassionate. — Exodus xxii. 21-27. DRC
What would a darwinistic, capitalist of the american, so called, Republican party, or a xenophobe, or a calvinist make of this? Would his ears be shut? How many candidates for office consider these words of God as religious values to campaign on?

God considers the alien, the widow, the orphan, the poor and hates their oppressors, and the usurer also. He promises to hear the plea of the stranger, the pauper, the homeless and abandoned. God commands us to be like Himself; compassionate.

The Scriptures mention four such victims of sin, whose condition cries to heaven, for justice. The first was Abel’s murder, fratricidal killing. The second was the sin of Sodom. Here is the third instance. The fourth is the laborer robbed of wages by his employer. The second pair, are social and economic issues, where the transgressors prey on the weak.

All these acts share a similarity of evil. Those who sin, in these manners, do not love their neighbor. And this leads to the day’s Gospel:
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law tested him by asking, "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments." — Matthew xx. 34-40. NAB
God command us to exercise charity!
*The exegist Dom Antoine Augustin Calmet points out, that, the ancient celts put to death the murderer of a stranger, while a murderer of a non-stranger was removed from the community.
† Cato the Censor equated usury with murder. Aquinas saw usury as charging twice, for the item and the use of the item. It is charging for time, time is not for sale. Dante places the usurer, in the inner ring of the seventh circle of hell, with sodomites and blasphemers. Shakespeare has Shylock say about Antonio, Merchant of Venice, in act I, scene iii:
I hate him for he is a Christian,
But more for that in low simplicity
He lends out money gratis and brings down
The rate of usance here with us in Venice.
If I can catch him once upon the hip,
I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.
He hates our sacred nation, and he rails,
Even there where merchants most do congregate,
On me, my bargains and my well-won thrift,
Which he calls interest.
This election there is an Issue 5, in Ohio, which will retain recent legislation, which among other points, limits usury to 28%. A well financed campaign, by the strip mall loan sharks, wants this repealed. Some of their false arguments, are that this is against freedom, and individual choice and would put people out of work. If it is defeated, the rate can be 14 times greater. Some of their allies are: Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Christian Alliance, National Taxpayers Union.

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