The Strained Gnat [Matthew 23:24]


The moral, of course, is not to cultivate a habit of

scrupulosity about detail when it comes to sinning

while allowing yourself some serious whoppers.

To condemn the drinking of bugs with camel hairs

sticking out between your teeth is at best ridiculous.

The Law is holy, sweet and good: it will keep you.

The point is not to miss the point.

But you must not therefore conclude that Jesus teaches

not to strain the gnat. You still have to haul out

magnifier and mesh. You still have to angle the lamp just so

to give yourself sufficient light, she is so small.

You have to do this, for one thing, because

she is a creature that swarms upon the earth, and

Leviticus says for your own good you may not eat her

whole or drink her residue in the water she brewed in

after dropping terrified onto the roiling surface of the pot;

and, for another, because there’s always a chance

she might still be alive. For what good shepherd

does not leave the ninety-nine when one lost lamb

might still be bleating far away? And what sad boy,

finding himself in hot water, does not dream

he has a father who will pluck him from the deep?

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