We have rolled back in time with today's Gospel reading from Luke. John the Baptist has been called by God to prepare the playing field for Jesus' arrival. At times I can find this bouncing around in Jesus' life (after resurrection, pre-crucifixion, before he enters the narrative) somewhat disconcerting. Be that as it may, at the end of our reading from Luke today, after John has hollered at those to whom he was called to minister, he sets out the broad outline of how we, as the Body of Christ in the world today, should act. He shows us the way.
The crowd surrounding him ask what they should do so that the ax doesn't fall at the root of their tree. John tells them to share clothing and food with those who are in need. The tax collectors and the soldiers ask the same thing of John. And he tells them, take only what is duly theirs, don't defraud, don't cheat, be satisfied with what they have earned. It is remarkable how simple and straightforward John's instructions are for finding the path to righteousness. They track with the Commandments set down by God eons in the past.
Take care of the poor, don't defraud, cheat, lie, and be content with what we have achieved. The last is the hardest. How many of us are ever "satisfied"? We always want more. I fall victim to this all the time. But not always getting it right is why we live in a community of like minded believers. We support each other, we help each other stand up and try again when we stray from this fairly straightforward path. We are given these readings year after year on purpose, to remind us that we not only can do better, try again, but that God's all embracing and welcoming love is beckoning us down that road.
We should try and be satisfied this Easter Season. We should give from our abundance to those who are in need. We should live our lives with authenticity and integrity. How hard is that? Pretty damn hard. But we should keep cracking at it.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Provincetown Harbor, 2005, jfd+