“I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.” So says the psalmist. But what do you say?
I suspect our first reaction is, “Yes, of course…” thinking that we will continue to live a good, holy life – humanly flawed to be sure – but forgiven and hopeful… and so we will see the good things of the Lord.
But then the psalmist is not speaking of the Kingdom of Heaven, some afterlife, but rather now, in the land of the living. So… do you see the good things of the Lord [now] in the land of the living?
Remember a Sunday just past when we read the story of the landowner who went out and hired laborers for his vineyard? He hired them at daybreak, at 9 am, at noontime, at 3 pm and then towards the end of the day. He then paid them all the same. And of course, the ones who had worked all day thought they should have received more. They were clearly thinking the whole situation wasn’t fair. The workers’ notion of what is fair gets challenged pretty quickly when the landowner asks them: “Are you envious because I am generous?”
…that is how we translate it into English. If were to simply translate it word for word from the Greek, the question becomes: “Is your eye evil because I am good?” And just maybe that is the better question that goes to the heart of the matter – how we see things. Several weeks ago, in a homily, I offered that the Bible is not a book of answers, so don’t start looking in the Bible for the answers it gives. Start by listening for the questions it asks. So…when we encounter something that strikes us as unfair, maybe we should resist the answer about fairness and entertain a question about how we see things.
How in the land of the living will we perceive things? As each one of us goes about our day, will we choose to see with an “evil eye” or will we seek out and see the good things of the Lord. It is the way we are called to live.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD with courage; be stouthearted and wait for the LORD.