On the Passing Quality of Evil, As Heard in a Jim Croce Song

There is a saying from Psalms that speaks to the transitory victory of evil:

I have seen the wicked one triumphant, towering like a cedar of Lebanon. I passed by again; he was gone. I searched; he was nowhere to be found (Psalm 37:35-36).

We are often too fearful of or too impressed by evil. But ultimately it cannot last. Evil consumes but does not give back, tears down but does not build up. It will at some point exhaust its resources because, unlike love, it cannot abide sharing itself or depending on another.

Think of all the sinful (and often silly) fads that have come and gone over the years. Remember, too, that empires have risen and fallen, nations have come and gone—all in the age of the Church. Thousands of enemies have sworn to destroy the Church, but we have read the funeral rites over all of them. Myriad heresies have sought to eclipse the truth, yet here we are, still.

Only the Church has the promise of indefectibility (see Mat 16). Evil and error cannot abide. The truth will out. Evil and error will rise, appearing glorious, glamorous, relevant, and “real.” But they will ultimately collapse. And here we will be, still preaching the same Gospel.

Elsewhere in Psalm 37 we read the following:

A little longer—and the wicked one is gone. Look at his place: he is not there. 11 But the humble shall own the land and delight in fullness of peace. The wicked one plots against the just man and gnashes his teeth against him; but the LORD laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is at hand.  The wicked draw the sword, bend their bows, to slaughter the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright.  Their sword shall pierce their own hearts, and their bows shall be broken to pieces. … The wicked shall perish; the enemies of the LORD shall be consumed. They are like the beauty of the meadows; they shall vanish; they shall vanish like smoke. … Then wait for the LORD, keep to his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land, and you will see the wicked destroyed (ps 37, varia).

Something of this truth is contained in the lyrics of a Jim Croce song. The song is about a famous pool hustler named Jim, who was the “king” of 42nd Street. Of him they said, “You don’t mess around with Jim.” One day Jim hustled the wrong fellow, a man named Slim. And after the ensuing conflicts, the new saying is “You don’t mess around with Slim.”

Yeah, old Jim got taken out and now Slim rules the roost. But beware, Slim, your days are short. The glamor of your evil will have its day, but soon enough we’ll pass by and you’ll be gone. And we’ll be here, still preaching the Gospel.


One Reply to “On the Passing Quality of Evil, As Heard in a Jim Croce Song”

  1. Well, all Msgr. has said is true, but oh, the hardship, pain and destruction evil does as it has its day. It’s scars remain. Even the resurrected Jesus retains the nail marks in his hands and feet, and the wound in His side.

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