Thursday, March 10, 2011

Iniquity and Inequity - A Lenten Devotion

                My four children are looking forward to spring break from their schools.  They probably have all kinds of fun things planned.  Some of these plans will actually pan out, and some won’t.  But one thing is sure to happen—there will be fighting.  It seems that siblings can’t have too much time together without a fight breaking out somewhere.  When we only had two children, controlling the bickering was easy.  Just separate the two of them and you’re fine.  But with four kids, it becomes a whole lot harder.  Especially when driving down the road in our minivan.  From the back seat come those familiar words, “Stop that!  He’s touching me!  It’s not fair!”

     I’m always amused at that last statement, “It’s not fair.”  Whoever said that life is fair?  Life is full of inequities, isn’t it?  Someone else has more than you do.  You received praise that someone else didn’t get.  One person’s sin results in someone else’s suffering.  When I hear my children complaining that something isn’t fair, I am usually quick to remind them that life’s not fair.  They shouldn’t expect things to be fair—not this side of heaven, at least.  Sin is part of our fallen nature.  We inherited it from our parents Adam and Eve, and we all struggle with it in this world.  Life’s full of inequity, and most of it is because of our iniquity.

Recently, I was reading Psalm 38, from the Douay-Rheims Bible.  Verses 4, 18, 21-22 say:

4 For my iniquities are gone over my head : and as a heavy burden are become heavy upon me.
18 For I will declare my inequity : and I will think for my sin.
21 Forsake me not, O Lord my God : do not thou depart from me.
22 Attend unto my help, O Lord, the God of my salvation.

                The two Hebrew words that this translation renders as iniquity (v. 4)  and inequity (v. 18)  are the very same word.  The two words in English come from the same root as well.  Iniquity is inequity.  Sin is not fair.

 A good image to portray inequity is a set of scales, tipped too far in one direction because the weights are inaccurate.  Proverbs 20:23 (NLT) says, “The LORD detests double standards; he is not pleased by dishonest scales.”  Today I ask you—where in your life have you been using dishonest scales?  Where have you been unfair with another person, or dishonest with God?  Where have you been unfair or dishonest, with yourself?  Lent is a time of self-examination, of asking God to show you both the iniquities in your heart and the inequities in your life. 

 Isaiah 53:6 says (DRB), “All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way: and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  Praise God for Jesus, who was unfairly crucified on our behalf.  He bore our inequity so He could bear our iniquity.  Now, may He work His justice in our hearts today.

The following poem is used with permission. 

Inequity vs. Iniquity

is one result of
Inequity is
iniquity is spiritual
Inequity is
iniquity is just
In society
often the iniquity
of a few
causes inequity
among many.
Part of the malice of
is that it blinds us
from seeing
Part of the power of
is that it stops us
from rectifying
since both are rampant
in their ubiquity,
confront inequity
by eliminating iniquity.

© Msgr. Walter Niebrzydowski
June 10, 2001

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