Psalm 32, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Definition: God’s righteousness consists in the promises God makes to us and keeps, in this world and the next. Our righteousness consists in the promises we make to God, to ourselves, and to one another, and keep, in this world. Eternity belongs to God by right; but not to us. Eternity is God’s gift to us.
In his novel, The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck traces the journey of an Oklahoma Dust Bowl family to California, which they regard as the Promised Land.
Tom Joad has just gotten out of prison, where he has been serving a sentence for manslaughter. Tom arrives home to find out that his family has lost their land and is about to embark on a journey to a new life. The traveling company includes three generations of Joads, Tom, who is breaking parole by going, his parents, his grandparents, his brothers, Floyd—and little Winfield, his sister, Rose of Sharron, her husband Connie, and a one-time preacher, a friend of the family, Jim Casey. They all join an exodus of “Oakies” following Route 66 west in hope of finding work in the fields and orchards of California. As the journey unfolds, the Joads make common cause with other families living at the margins, are courted by communist agitators, and find themselves constantly abused by unscrupulous farmers, bosses, and crooked lawmen, who serve not justice but the powers that be. Before the story is over, Tom’s grandparents die. The preacher is arrested and later killed. Both Floyd and Tom leave the family unjustly pursued by the law. Rose of Sharron’s husband Connie abandons her, and her baby dies. As the book draws to a close, the few remaining Joads have lost everything. They have taken shelter in an old barn. They are not alone. There is a dying man and his son. The boy pleads for his father’s life, saying, “He ain’t ‘et for six days. He gave me all the food. I didn’t know. I stole some bread last night, but he couldn’t keep it down. He needs milk. You folks got any milk?” In the final scene of the novel, in a supreme act of grace and humanity, Rose of Sharron nurses the dying man upon the milk that her baby will never need. Continue reading