"Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him." Mk 6:20
Good people like John the Baptist often trouble us. A few years ago in Kansas City, Ardie Bland, a judge who once sentenced people protesting nuclear weapons to jail, had a change of heart after hearing another group of protesters defend their actions. When the prosecuting attorney asked 80 year old Fr. Carl Kabat whether he taught people to obey the rules, the priest answered, "God's rules." Citing Rosa Parks as an example of someone who disobeyed the rules that made her, a black person, move to the back of the bus, the priest obviously moved Judge Bland, a black man.
Knowing that the law would not allow him to ignore the fact that protesters trespassed on government property, the judge sentenced the defendants to answer five troubling questions. The fourth, You defendants say you are Christians and one is a Buddhist. Fr. [Carl] Kabat says that you should disobey ungodly laws. How do you respond to someone who believes there is no God? Who is to say what God believes, for example, when Christians used God to justify slavery and the Crusades?
Fr William Bichsel, SJ, answered this way. We give people reason to believe there is no God. We need to follow Jesus: lay down your arms, forgive one another, love one another. In the Lord’s Prayer, we say give us this day our daily bread. We mean nobody should be without bread. We say forgive us our trespasses. We mean nobody should be without forgiveness. Do we give people reason to believe there is no God by our failure to live the Gospel?
Today, pray to be true to your Gospel convictions.
How would you answer Judge Bland's question?