Mouse Trap

“Now what the hell do you suppose is eatin’ them two guys?” — Last line from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men

Curly only cares about himself. He shot another man’s dog, because the old dog smelled. And at the violent, heart rending conclusion Curly has already moved on. He doesn’t understand why anyone would be troubled.

We have students in the North KC district where Ralph Yarl went to school. A band player on his way to pick up his brothers rang the wrong door bell. A car full of girls pulled into the wrong driveway. A high school cheerleader tried to get into the wrong car. A girl and her dad chased a basketball into the wrong yard.

What is wrong with our world?

Steinbeck’s question hangs unanswered because he want us to answer it.

We live in a violent world. A place filled with fear. Division. Hate. We can avoid. Turn our eyes toward ourself. Move on. We can be Curly.

But each moment is an opportunity to create change. We can choose to care. Choose to love. Choose to follow Jesus.

Steinbeck was the not first author to leave the conclusion hanging. If you read the footnotes in Mark’s gospel, he stops before Jesus appears physically resurrected**. The tomb is empty. The angels have announced Jesus is risen. But the women have not seen him. They are afraid. Mark leaves us wondering, what will the women do?

But more importantly — we too have heard that Jesus is risen, but not seen him physically — Mark asks what will we do? Mark invites us to write the ending!

We ARE writing the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Will the violence of the cross continue to rule our world? The crowd and leaders poured out viciousness upon Jesus. Their life was afraid. Afraid of others. Afraid of God. In fear they used force to find control and safety. Death, in their world, became their ultimate power.

Many continue to choose this path. But Jesus refused and provided a new way.

Will we declare the truth of resurrection? The resurrected life knows death is only an illusion. God’s love drives out our fear and enables us to embrace others. Enables us to sacrifice for our neighbor. For sacrifice, not death, holds true power. It is the power that opens the way to life eternal.

Our world is not lost to violence. But only the path of Jesus – sacrificial love – will overcome death. All creation is waiting to see which path the church will choose.

** If you read the footnotes in chapter 16 of Mark, the original ended at verse eight. The following verses (9-20) were later additions. This final verses also include some strange things, like snake handling! (I have written in more detail here and with more spirit here.)

Thank you to Dr. Gloer and his Reading Matters small group on Steinbeck’s book. Many of the ideas began with his input and the group’s discussion!

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