and witnessed, they remained unmoved. Perhaps they thought it would go on forever. When the test came, they were found wanting.
Breaking away from the history lesson, Paul challenged the complacencyof his believers. "The man who thinks he is safe must be careful that he does not fall." We could interpret this as a threat that some kind of jealous God is waiting to catch us off guard. it would be closer to the truth to say that unless we take the time to break through our own illusions, to see ourselves as we are, the time will come when we are confronted with our true selves.
The parable of the fig tree underlines the same truth. Year by year vineyard owner looked to fmd fruit on his fig tree, but there was none. He resolved to cut the fig tree down and bum it. The keeper of the vineyard pleaded: "Leave it one more year and let me care for it. If, after a year, it has yielded no fruit, then you can cut it down." In his death and resurrection Christ has pleaded for us with the Father. Shall we pass this moment by? "Do you suppose they were more guilty than all the other people? ... They were not, I tell you."
We have an unpleasant tendency to rush to judgment when we hear of people in difficulties: They must have deserved it." Job was a victim. And Jesus came across it too. When Pilate executed some Galileans, people thought they must have been greater sinners than others. A falling tower crushed 18 people: it must be a judgment on them!
It's a gossip's judgment, not God's.
Gossips love special vocabulary, loaded words, unloving phrases, the special jargon of disapproval.
The word "papist" was designed to wound. So were the words "Pak(" and "queer".
The Church teaches very clearly that the only right context for the use of our sexuality is within marriage. All sexual acts outside marriage in adultery, in premarital sex, in solitary sex, in rape are objectively wrong.
One of the things that became clear in the recent controversy over gay adoption was that many homosexual people felt that they were being specifically labelled and targeted by the Church. We correctly say that all sexual acts outside marriage are wrong but the theologi cal Exocet that had really caused much hurt was the sentence: "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered". So when the CCC subsequently says that homosexual people "must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity", it doesn't ring true, because gays feel singled out for special condemnation.
One of Aesop's Fables describes the ill-treatment of a negro slave. The owner believed that his blackness could be washed away. Other servants scrubbed so vigorously that the poor man died. He had been judged and blamed for being intrinsically discoloured.
Shylock was indignant at Christian hostility to God's chosen people. Is not a Jew "fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?"
The recent barney over adoption provoked many wounding phrases, both from Romophobes who were determined to defeat the Church, and from homophobes within the Church who were determined to deploy hurtful language.
Surely both sides need to conduct the discussion with "respect, compassion and sensitivity".