But this week, the Revised Common Lectionary (which lays out the scripture readings for worship in a 3 year cycle) does one of the things that really annoys me - it edits the scriptures, ostensibly I suppose, to make it more amenable to the modern listener. It's bad enough that we can't hear the entire psalm, but in this case they also leave out a single verse (36) which says; “And let sinners be consumed from the earth; let the wicked be no more.”
I’m willing to bet that almost everyone has, at one time or another, said a prayer just like it – “God, please make the bad people go away.” The first human to turn their eyes heavenward and pray to God probably prayed a prayer just like it. God is great and God's creation is awesome, but sometimes people really suck - they let us down, they lie, they cause mischief and too many of our fellow humans are subject to capricious injustice and true bodily harm at the hands of others. Yes, please let the wicked be no more.
But the thing is, of course, that all of us are one time or another the one disappointing rather than the one disappointed. All of us have broken a heart or wounded the feelings of others. Maybe we've even been willing to harm or did actual physical harm to another. I know that I was willing to annihilate millions of people I'd never met with nuclear weapons in my time in the Navy because of our fear of the Red Menace.
The disciples were expecting a Messiah who would lead a rebellion to restore the Davidic kingdom and make the wicked be no more through killing them - they wanted a sacrificial purification of Israel. I have long harbored the suspicion that Judas's motivation may have been his realization that Jesus would do no such thing. Because Jesus and therefore God's intention is to remove the wicked, not by sacrificing them, but by loving them and breaking down the fear that lies behind all our selfishness and wickedness.
Shame on the RCL for leaving that out!