“You tyrant, why do you boast of wickedness
against the godly all day long?…
You love all words that hurt,
O you deceitful tongue.” -Psalm 52:1,4
“Be like an astute businessman: make stillness be your criterion for testing the value of everything and choose always what contributes to it.” -Evagrius
No preacher can read Psalm 52 this week, with its condemnation of a tyrant that loves “lying more than speaking truth” and “words that hurt,” without thinking of Donald Trump and the latest of his racist outrages. Add to that Amos, who receives an oracle that condemns a people of religious pretenders more interested in economic exploitation and power than goodness, and we have a scriptural witness that seems tailored for our time.
But in reading the whole of our scriptures for Sunday, I cannot help but think that there is “a better part” that we must choose—a stance that begins with Amos’s call to “be silent,” continues in the example of the green olive tree in Psalm 52, and rests with Mary’s listening at the feet of the Lord.