Have you ever been inordinately annoyed by someone else's clothing? I have, and in my experience this is a classic indicator of what this week's Leviticus reading calls “hating someone in my heart.” When I'm repressing anger or frustration, I suddenly notice the hideously out-of-date belt my relative is wearing, or the way-too-short-in-every-inseam pantsuit my co-worker has on. The clothes are never the true offense, of course, but they send off alarms: time to speak up.
In Jesus' time, a rabbi's yoke was a set of teachings—that which was required of you. The Lord's "easy and gentle" yoke makes most sense to me in light of our yearning for clarity about what is essential.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).