I want to share with you a poem I remember from senior year of high school — The Cookie Thief by Valerie Cox
A woman was waiting at an airport one night,
with several long hours before her flight.
She hunted for a book in the airport shops,
bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.
She was engrossed in her book but happened to see,
that the man sitting beside her, as bold as could be. . .
grabbed a cookie or two from the bag in between,
which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.
So she munched the cookies and watched the clock,
as the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock.
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by,
thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I would blacken his eye.”
With each cookie she took, he took one too,
when only one was left, she wondered what he would do.
With a smile on his face, and a nervous laugh,
he took the last cookie and broke it in half.
He offered her half, as he ate the other,
she snatched it from him and thought… oooh, brother.
This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude,
why he didn’t even show any gratitude!
She had never known when she had been so galled,
and sighed with relief when her flight was called.
She gathered her belongings and headed to the gate,
refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate.
She boarded the plane, and sank in her seat,
then she sought her book, which was almost complete.
As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise,
there was her bag of cookies, in front of her eyes.
If mine are here, she moaned in despair,
the others were his, and he tried to share.
Too late to apologize, she realized with grief,
that she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.
What a poem! It hits on a message Jesus is making in our Gospel, where he COMMANDS us to love and FORBIDS us to judge.
One reason Jesus forbids us to judge: because, like the cookie thief lady, we usually don’t have to story right in the first place. Only the one true judge — Jesus — understands everything, and so only he knows the whole truth. I often think that folks would be much more understanding and kind if they understood all the brokenness, pain, and difficulties others are going through.
Another reason we are forbidden to judge? Because the average person, when faced with mistreatment, insults, or hatred, has a different instinct than what Jesus commands us to do in our Gospel. Jesus commands us to love — no exceptions. We look to our first reading for an example of this. Saul was envious of David and wanted him dead, and he tried three times to kill him. In the reading today, David finds the sleeping Saul and had the perfect chance to kill the one who had tried to kill him and who had been so bad to him. David refuses to do so but opts to forgive.
Jesus holds us to the standard of love. We are to love everyone. As the plaque in my office reads, “Love everyone. I’ll sort them out later. – God.” Amen! The love God calls us to is concrete and PROACTIVE. Jesus says it’s good to be nice only to those who are nice to us first. That is a reactive love.
We are to love. God will sort us all out later.