On the Wickedness That Withers and the Truth That Perdures

Disclaimer: In a heated political time of a nearing election I find it necessary to say that this post is not a commentary on the current election or the candidates. I wrote this post some time ago and it has been sitting in my draft folder, long-forgotten. It is not about the current moment, it is about human patterns that transcend this or that time. 

Over the years, in meeting especially with teenagers in Sunday School, I have used an old Jim Croce song to instruct them that worldly norms, and worldly leaders come and go. What is “hip” and cool today is considered silly and out of date tomorrow. My advice to them was to stay close to the Scriptures and teachings of the Church which are time-tested and do not change. I have often warned the young people not to admire those in the culture who exult fornication, disrespect for women, homosexual acts and all sorts of violence and evil in music and movies. A line from psalm 37 comes to mind: 

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

To the young people and to all of us, comes this admonition from the same psalm: 

Do not fret because of the wicked; do not envy those who do evil, for they wither quickly like grass and fade like the green of the fields. (Psalm 37:1-2) 

In the lyrics to the Jim Croce song that follows, there is described a man named Jim who is the uncontested towering leader and king of 42nd Street. He’s a pool hustler, among other things, and drives a “drop-top” Cadillac. But one day he hustles the wrong guy, a man named Willie McCoy, (also known as “Slim.”) who comes to settle accounts. Big Jim is taken out. Meet the new King of 42nd Street: Slim! 

Here are the lyrics to the song and its story. 

Uptown got it’s hustlers
The bowery got it’s bums
42nd street got big Jim walker
He’s a pool shootin’ son of a gun
Yeah, he big and dumb as a man can come
But he stronger than a country hoss
And when the bad folks all get together at night
You know they all call big Jim boss, just because
And they say

You don’t tug on superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off that old lone ranger
And you don’t mess around with Jim

Well outta south Alabama came a country boy
He say I’m lookin’ for a man named Jim
I am a pool shootin’ boy
My name is Willie McCoy
But down home they call me Slim
Yeah I’m lookin’ for the king of 42nd street
He drivin’ a drop-top Cadillac
Last week he took all my money
And it may sound funny
But I come to get my money back!


And everybody say “Jack don’t you know

You don’t tug on superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off that old lone ranger
And you don’t mess around with Jim

Well a hush fell over the pool room
Jimmy come boppin’ in off the street
And when the cuttin’ were done
The only part that wasn’t bloody
Was the soles of the big man’s feet
Yeah he were cut in in bout a hundred places
And he were shot in a couple more
And you better believe
They sung a different kind of story
When big Jim hit the floor. 

Now they say

You don’t tug on superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off that old lone ranger
And you don’t mess around with Slim!

Yeah, big Jim got his hat
Find out where it’s at
And it’s not hustlin’ people strange to you
Even if you do got a two piece custom-made pool cue

Yeah you don’t tug on superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off the old lone ranger
And you don’t mess around with Slim!

And thus we see that Jim gives way to Slim; there’s a new king of 42nd street (for now). We might wish that some good king replaced a bad one, but that’s only one way change comes. Sometimes Satan turns on his own. Perhaps they are no longer useful to him, or perhaps he’s got them so “in the bag” that he no longer needs to hold them with worldly gains and glory. But the point remains, the wicked and the worldly cannot stand their ground for long. The world is often a series of one bad idea or personality after another. They come and go, but the Gospel remains. 

Yes! The Gospel remains. And it’s true for more than just individuals. In a wider sense, leaders, movements, trends and even nations, cultures and States, come and go over time. In the past 2,000 years the Church, which perdures, has seen empires come and go, nations rise and fall. In addition, philosophies, conflicts, movements, heresies and whatever else you can imagine emerge, have their influence, and ultimately fail as impractical or destructive. And here we are, the Church, still proclaiming the same Gospel that Christ delivered to us. 

It doesn’t matter how big and bad, how well-funded and influential, what is wicked cannot forever endure. This too shall pass. There is only one Noah’s Ark in the flood waters of change and the vicissitudes of this world and that is the Church. In spite of the creaking boards of our weaknesses and the stench our sins, the Church perdures. This is not by our accomplishment that we should glory in it. This is the promise and work of Christ who said, The heavens and earth may pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Mat 24:35). 

There are only two teams on the field; there are no sidelines or people permitted in the stands. Choose sides. But here’s the awesome thing: we already know that Team Jesus is going to win no matter how flashy and cool the uniforms and tactics of the other team are. Choose well and forget the glamor of evil, for:  

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

But here we still are. 

One Reply to “On the Wickedness That Withers and the Truth That Perdures”

  1. With all due respect Msgr, what are you afraid of? Why make a disclaimer? And this does reflect what is going on now. Are you afraid of your bishop? I won’t mention his name because last time I mentioned it you didn’t post my reply.
    We need strong priests to speak out and protect to flock because only a few bishops are doing that.

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