Tuesday, September 10, 2014

Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, priest
(I Corinthians 6:1-11; Luke 6:1-11)

You’re poor and in jail.  You did not commit the crime you are accused of.  But you are hardly perfect.  The district attorney tells you to confess to the crime.  He says that you’ll be given a reduced sentence – ten years with the possibility of parole in seven.   Otherwise, he threatens, he’ll put you away for twenty-five.  Without money to hire an effective lawyer, you accept the offer.  Believe it or not, such a scenario is not unusual in America today.  Evidently something similar took place in St. Paul’s Corinth.

Paul writes the Corinthians not to take their cases to public court. He knows that many corrupt officials adjudicate there.  Better, he says, to have a hearing among the community where one can expect fairness.  After all, these are people who have repented of any previous wrong-doing.  They not only know right from wrong but have a sense of the heart yearning for justice.

Some wise people believe that the American penal system is broken.  It penalizes excessively the poor and allows the rich to get away with murder.  They advise a radical restructuring.  To contribute to a solution we should be honest in everything that we do.