In the first lesson of today's Daily Office readings, the cynical rant continues:

There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people who are treated according to the conduct of the wicked, and there are wicked people who are treated according to the conduct of the righteous. Ecclesiastes 8:14

Results in this life don't always strike us as fair or just. As a Rotarian, I say the Four-Way test every week. #2: = "Is it fair to all concerned?" Fairness is a virtue. How does it help to call its imperfect attainment in this world "vanity"?

I think of vanity as excessive focus on one's appearance. In Bible-speak, "vanity" means pointlessness. (I suppose the overlap is that excessive focus on our appearance is pointless. Everybody else is more interested in their own!) It is vanity (pointless) to dwell upon whether everyone is getting their just deserts because we never have all the facts about what others deserve.

So what's a body to do? Our baptismal covenant promises to strive for justice. How can we keep our promise?

Jesus does some good modeling for us in today's Gospel, the feeding of the 4,000 who chased Jesus up the mountain where he meant to rest. He says, "I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat" Matthew 15:32. Looks like compassion, not judgment, is the path to justice.

Let's try dispensing extra compassion today. It won't be vanity.

Pastor Kathleen Kelly,   
Interim Rector  

Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes , Giovanni Lanfranco, oil on canvas, circa: 1620-23
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