July 12, 2011 - Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

Only a desperate person uses death as a solution. Usually death is not a solution but a mystery. We do not know what happens after death, so when no answer makes sense in this life, we try death as a solution. Proponents of euthanasia talk about indignity and unbearable pain, but they fail to answer the most basic question: what experience is waiting on the other side of death? The utter insanity of suicide is being sure that our problems will go away with death when there is no evidence that that is true.

Death is also used as if it could undo what has been done. Such is the case of abortion. A woman is pregnant, and she wishes she were not. An abortion will not reverse the pregnancy; it will only make her the mother of a dead child.

There are uncared for children, poverty, incurable illnesses, and all the other problems in the world, but death is not a solution. We feel helpless in the face of great problems, so we are tempted to use death to solve them, but death is not a solution. This is the lesson of our first reading today. Death was not a solution to Pharaoh’s fear that the Israelites would fight the Egyptians. Death was not a solution to Moses’ anger about the Egyptian hitting his fellow Hebrew.

Consider Moses’ position: the Hebrews are slaves, and he can do nothing to free them. An Egyptian is hurting, perhaps killing a Hebrew before his eyes. So he does what he can; he kills the Egyptian, but this does not help his cause. He is like one of those people who murder an abortion doctor. Besides the obvious problem of one man being judge, jury, and executioner, the greater problem is that more killing does not bring peace.

Jesus provides for us the perfect counter example. His work was not to destroy the bad people but redeem them. He achieved this by the opposite of killing: dying. Jesus today complains that not even his miracles are achieving their proper goal. He seems today, as far as such a thing is possible for God, to be helpless in the face of humanity bent on destroying itself. When we feel helpless in the face of problems larger than we can fix, we should follow his example and die. We do what we can, and the worst that can happen is that the world will kill us.