Thursday, May 24, 2018

Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

(James 5:1-6; Mark 9:41-50)

George Orwell wrote Animal Farm as an allegory to critique Soviet Communism.  He used farm animals to indicate different types of people who revolt against a delinquent farmer.  At the beginning of his story the pigs ardently organize the other animals. They claim that with a change of regime all will be treated equally.  When the revolution succeeds, however, one of the pigs connives for leadership.  He systematically eliminates rivals and acts more tyrannically than the farmer. Today’s rather difficult gospel should be read as providing a similar lesson.

Jesus is teaching his disciples about their future proclamation of the gospel.  He tells them that they can expect some relief - such as a cup of water - in their efforts.  He warns them, however, that they should never exploit others.  He emphasizes that if they lead others from virtue, they will be punished like the worst of criminals.  Jesus is aware of the tendency of initial ideals being corrupted with the acquisition of power.  This is what happened in Orwell’s allegory and sometimes, sadly, even in Church leadership. 

In his parable Jesus uses salt in a novel way.  He sees it like the ideals which inspire people to work fervently in pursuit of their goals.  But the ideals may wane like salt may turn unsavory. Then like salt becomes useless except to melt the snow, ideals become empty words.