[i Cor 3:1-9; Ps. 62; Lk. 4:38-end]
Grace to you, beloved children of God. Amen
Evil recognises good.
Evil recognises Jesus for who he is.
Evil can even quote the Scriptures, as we have learned from Jesus’ encounter with the satan in the wilderness.
Do we recognise good or evil?
And if so, what do we do with that information, that knowledge, that awareness even.
Not only does evil recognise good, it also acknowledges it and testifies to it, almost like a creedal article. Then so should we.
We’re all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness.
We’re all saints because God in his grace forgives us.
That’s our ‘anthropology of sin and forgiveness’ if you will.
It means that in the end, evil won’t have the final say. Sin, death and the devil can seemingly be overwhelming, can seemingly mean the end of everything but God always has the final victory.
As Martin Luther King Jr said,
“The Hitlers and the Mussolinis may have their day, and for a period they may wield great power, spreading themselves like a green bay tree, but soon they are cut down like the grass and whither as the green herb.” (Our God is able, 1962-3)
There’s evil in this world, most of it’s human made, very often it’s nature, but sometimes it’s something else. This evil recognises good, recognises the divine. And that’s it’s weakness.
When we’re forgiven, by grace, then it’s our turn to forgive, and be the good in the world that evil will recognise and fear. Evil will recognise it and will fear our Christian witness and even more importantly our Christian service in and to the world.
Love and service to our neighbour are the vocation of a Christian, just as Christ came to serve, in healing people, preaching the kingdom, remitting sins, dying on the cross. God doesn’t need our good works, our service, our love but our neighbour does, and Christ has shown us this by his own life and teachings.
St Paul writes,
9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. (i Cor. 3:9)
We’re fields and trees to wield produce and fruits of faith like compassion and friendship and kindness. We’re a building where others can seek shelter and protection, where we’re hosts to the community of saints. We’re called to be a completely different kind of green bay tree.
Our love and service will counter evil; evil will recognise it, evil will acknowledge our goodness, and the divine inspiration and example behind it.
Do we recognise the evil of war, ruthless ambition, hate speech, fake news, fear mongering, generational poverty, corruption, greed, fraud, pollution and the unending exploitation of resources, modern day slavery and sex trafficking, misogyny, blind dogmatism, bibliolatry, left- and rightwing extremism, white supremacy, jihadism and christianism, political populism, the steady undermining of our democracy, megalomania, antisemitism and islamophobia, systemic racism, homo- and transphobia, the discrimination against other abled people, body dysmorphia, and so on?
Do we answer our call, our vocatio, and counter all this by striving for peace and justice; by truth telling; by promoting honest economics and the honest distribution of resources and wealth; by caring for Creation; by demanding access to education and health care and jobs for all; by lifting up the lowly, speaking up for those who have no voice, and empowering people in their human worth; by participating in inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue; and by assuring people that God loves them unconditionally no matter who they are, where they’ve come from, what they look like, or whom they love.
There’s evil in this world, more often than not it’s human made, many times it’s nature, but sometimes it’s something else. This evil recognises good, recognises the divine. And that’s it’s weakness, it’s undoing.
We’re all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. It’s exactly because of God’s forgiveness that we’re able to answer the call to love and serve the world. Forgiveness compels us to love and service. And in that love and service we’ll recognise evil as much as evil recognises good.
The demons recognised Jesus as the Christ; will the world’s evils recognise us as Christians?!
Brothers and sisters, evil will not have the final say!