Mark 11:11-26

The Bible presents us with four questions: In Genesis we are presented with first”Where are you? Where is your brother? In the Gospels: Jesus asks: “Who do you say that I am am?” and “What do you want me to do for you?”

These four questions are questions that we struggle with all of our lives. And as we answer them they determine the quality of life that we live, and how we treat others.

Yesterday we spent time with a gentleman who shared that his daughter was given an over dose of drugs by a man, and died, and that he killed the man.  He refused prayer because he was “unworthy.” and now as “guilty” as the man who killed his daughter.

It was also announced yesterday by the Attorney General of the United States that the death penalty would be sought in the case of Dylan Roof.

For us the first two questions echo here: “Who are we?” and “Who is our brother?”  Our understanding of the Gospel is that our identity is found in God, and from that identity we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.  We are not to seek vengeance.  Secondly “Who is our brother?”  Again the Gospels are clear our brother and our sister are every human being, every creature, and only God can take or allow a life to be taken. And the answer for the second two questions are in affirming that life is a gift, that we are blessed to have life, and that only God can take that life, and that we are called to love each other.

For when we take a life, we damage ourselves like our friend yesterday, we tarnish our souls, and lose our sense of wholeness.

One of my favorite quotes is “To seek justice, but to have mercy.”  When we commit wrongs we suffer the consequences, but in those consequences there should be mercy. 

Dylan is barely of age, his brain is not fully developed,  he was raised in a dysfunctional family, in a culture of racism, and of violence.  He has not ha a chance from day one.  To be given life without parole would give him a chance, to live with his crimes, and in living with them to come to awareness of the enormity of what he has done, and to repent, to change, to grow, to develop.

The first gentleman–who knows the true story, because he has long term addiction and mental illness–will be tortured for the rest of his life with guilt–it will drive him deeper into drug use.

The second two questions sum it up for us “Who do you day that  am?” and “What do you want me to do for you?” speaks to us in that we  affirm Jesus as the  one who love us, and as a  Savior who leads us to salvation.  Savalation–for us means from ourselves, to give us a new quality of life. And that means we love each other, treat each other equally, and let God ultimately be the judge.

Those four questions determine how we approach life, and the last two are how God approaches us–with mercy, with forgiveness. Let God determine who should die. Let us live in God’s time. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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