Our readings today favor the little men and the poor. The Gospel sees Jesus as the promised Messiah who would not cry out, would not make his voice heard. He would not be like the politicians and owners of insurance agencies whose faces are constantly beamed at us through hugely expensive TV commercials.
The prophet Micah of the first reading was a poor man of the eighth century before Christ. From his hills above the Dead Sea he gazed west over family holdings that had been gathered into the vast fields of the wealthy. He promised vengeance from the Lord on merchants who schemed at taking over the fields of the poor.
Those merchants remind me of a man with whom I once shared a cab in the Korean countryside. Having taken the day-long bus trip into see our bishop about marriage dispensations, I was disappointed twenty miles short of my parish when the bus diver announced he would go no farther that Saturday evening.
Standing around, looking to hitch a ride on any army vehicle going south, I was approached by a stranger who said, “Father, would you pay half the cost of a cab to our town?”
Having half the fare, I got into the cab with the man, and I asked him how he knew me. He said he was a grain merchant in my town, and for years he had watched me passing by his place. He went on to explain that none of his fellow merchants ever went to church for the reason that they grew wealthy by cheating customers.
He didn’t use the word “cheating” since he was talking in Korean. He did admit to boosting the price on grain when it grew scarce. For him and his merchant class, amassing more wealth than their competitors was their their favorite sport.
Today as well we have wealthy dealers like those people. They play a game in which they keep score with millions. Micah warns them the Lord is going to blow his whistle on their game.