Most of us have much to say about the corruption and crime that are rampant in our society. We are quick to point fingers at those in high places who are shown to be guilty; perhaps we point fingers too quickly. We have allowed criminality to become subjective. We think that those whose crimes are greater or worse than ours on some subjective scale of criminality are the real criminals. Just the same, we think that the real threat to life and limb on our nation’s roads does not come from those who drive fast, but those who drive faster than we do or jump the traffic lights that much later.
Some Msunduzi residents were up in arms recently about a squad of traffic police that had started following up on unpaid traffic fines. Those who were caught parroted the ancient cry: “Why me? The cops should be targeting the real criminals.” Unfortunately the subjective scale that is so clear to us, is not quite as obvious to law-enforcement agencies.
How can we hope to root out corruption in high places when each of us sees corruption and crime as something other people do?
Lord, we are horrified by the corruption all around us;
The sins of the fathers are visited on the poor and vulnerable
in this generation and the next.
But such large crimes allow us to trivialise our own seeming small ones.
We are indignant when traffic police fine us for speeding
while real criminals run free.
Lord, we have allowed innocence and criminality to become relative;
It depends on the circumstances, we like to believe.
But for you, Lord, there is no innocence.
“There is no one who is righteous. No, not one.”
We are self centred and greedy; our love is timid and selective.
We are critical of others and forgiving of ourselves.
We fight for our rights, and ignore the rights of the most vulnerable.
You call us into sacrificial relationships; you ask, “How can I help?”
We build relationships to benefit us and our schemes;
We network for profit, and ask, “What’s in it for me?”
We don’t cause mayhem on our roads,
but we ignore the rules of the road when it suits us,
and we open the door for others to go that much faster,
to jump traffic lights that much later,
until no one knows what is too fast, or too late, until it is just that.
Lord, indeed, with you there is no innocence; we are truly all guilty.
Forgive us for the corruption and crime and poverty
in which we all share, and to which we all contribute.
In you alone are innocence, righteousness
and unconditional love to be found;
You alone have the right to point fingers and become indignant.
But instead, you took up a cross and absorbed the sin and sickness,
the pain and corruption; you died to put an end to it all.
Only you didn’t, did you? You didn’t put an end to it
because you left us with freedom to choose.
We can journey with you through Lent to the cross;
We can watch you die there with the burden of our sin on your back,
And we can walk away and leave you there,
and try to believe that’s where the story ends.
But just because we don’t believe,
doesn’t mean that Easter never happened.
We can refuse to let the risen Christ touch our lives,
but he is still the Risen Christ, reaching out to us in love.
Lord give us the courage to face the truth of the resurrection;
to allow you to penetrate the cold and the dark within;
to bring warmth and light and freedom; to heal the brokenness,
and challenge us to a new way of living in the world, for the sake of all.