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Speaking to the Soul: Becoming a Judge

Speaking to the Soul: Becoming a Judge

Week of Proper 24, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 38 (morning) // 119:25-48 (evening)

Ecclesiasticus 7:4-14

Revelation 8:1-13

Luke 10:17-24

I recently caught up with a brilliant old friend from high school. When she first began practicing law, she thought she wanted to be a prosecutor but was quickly disillusioned. She found that even prosecutors of financial corruption lied often, and were emboldened by the perception that they were superheroes and guardians of justice. My friend now practices white-collar criminal defense, and I’m sure she practices with integrity.

Our first reading today warns us about a crisis that looms for many who set out to do good. People often set out to become teachers or social workers, doctors or lawyers, pastors or non-profit leaders, expecting to make the world more compassionate and just. Before long, though, we find ourselves unable to create change, beholden to unjust patterns, or just one more part of what we saw as “the problem.”

Here’s what the author of Ecclesiasticus has to say about this dilemma: “Do not seek to become a judge, or you may be unable to root out injustice; you may be partial to the powerful and so mar your integrity.” From this perspective, if we seek positions of power and influence, we might find ourselves overly partial and deferential to powerful and influential people. Our personal integrity and our crusade against injustice will be lost in the process.

So, what should we do with our ambitions to root out injustice? Should we decline all opportunities for power and influence, lest they compromise our integrity and commitments to serve the victims of inequality and injustice? Perhaps the best we can do is to set out with no illusions about what our positions in society will allow us to do. A consistent practice of integrity and impartiality, and not our position itself, will do us and our world much more good.

Lora Walsh blogs about the Daily Office readings at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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