Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Covering and Downplaying of Wickedness

When people sin, when they are vile, when they do that which is reprehensible, how do you respond?

I ask, because one of the downsides of our internet culture is that we will instaneously want to lash and beat and strike back those who harm us in doing wrong. We will justify this by saying that public sin requires a public rebuke.

Does it?

Consider tomorrow's Gospel, the workers in the vineyard from Matthew 20.

And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12saying, 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and(D) the scorching heat.'

This is public. This is direct. This is immediate. And it is vile - it is an utterly sinful allegation.

So what does the Master do? Does he smack down the sinners? Does he go quickly and warn the other vineyard owners against hiring these rapscallions? No.

But he replied to one of them,(E) 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14Take(F) what belongs to you and go.

Just gentle correction. No attempt to shame. No attempt to lessen their reputation.

And that gets to the heart of the matter - even if someone is wrong, publicly wrong, we are still called upon to defend their reputation. We are called to cover their shame, not invite others to see it, not to draw attention to it. We do not need to vilify those who are wrong....

But it seems like we certainly like to.

No comments: