Dear President Trump:
Today’s Daily Lectionary readings are about winners and losers — an appropriate topic for the day after the climax of March Madness!
In the Old Testament reading, there are only losers. God will use the enemy Babylonians to bring judgment upon God’s wayward people. But after 70 years of exile in Babylon, God will bring judgment on the Babylonians themselves. (Jeremiah 25:8-17) The psalmist says winners should: “Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:13-14)
In the Epistle reading, there are many winners: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.” (Romans 10:12) And in the Gospel reading there are unexpected winners and losers. Within earshot of the religious leaders who opposed his healing work on the Sabbath, Jesus tells the man whose sight he has just restored: “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” (John 9:39)
At a different time, Jesus describes a roll call of nations in which winners and losers are announced. Surprisingly, the winners are not the wealthiest or the most powerful. Rather, they are the most compassionate:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory… All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:31-40)
Mr. President, work with Congress and the nation’s governors and religious leaders to ensure that this nation is on a winning team.
J. Daryl Byler