This week’s readings invite us to look deeply at how we treat each other, expect to be treated and when and where we make excuses for poor treatment, particularly among and by our leaders or other persons we hold in esteem.
David’s unjustified demand for Nabal to provision his bandits and his willingness to slaughter all of them gets swallowed up in romantic tellings of the marriage of Abigail and David. Abigail pays what is essentially a shakedown bribe, think of a gang demanding protection money from a store owner.
The psalmist, reflecting on the ways in which people with power dominate and subjugate, counsels her hewers not to be angry on account of the wicked but rather trust God to bring them to a just end. It is hard counsel for there is much to be angry about and, that just end is clearly not a swift end. But the psalmist has lived long enough to see the wicked fall. She knows of what she speaks. She is a wise elder among us calling us to wait to see the justice of God in our lifetimes.
The ethical framework of the epistle is presented primarily in yet another list of behaviors to be avoided. More helpfully, it points back to the primary principle of love of neighbor.
In the Gospel Zacchaeus models the much overlooked principle of reparation. His repentance is accompanied by actions to make right wrong he has done and to go beyond it.
In these readings money, wealth, possessions and power are barometers for our ethics. How we treat each other is not simply a matter of interpersonal civility. It is how we use the resources we have for the betterment of the world around us and to meet the needs of those in our midst.