The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same!

Proverbs 18:18
The lot puts an end to disputes
and decides between powerful contenders.

To decide things by lot was to decide things by chance.  Lots were cast for Jesus’ clothes.  It does not follow that the soldier who won the lot was an especially worthy recipient of the prize, nor that the man who hung naked on the cross above them deserved that punishment.  Similarly, it is worth noting that today’s verse does not say that deciding things by lot is good.  It merely says that powerful contender’s disputes are ended that way.  Some people imagine that we modern civilized people don’t act that way any more.  They point to medieval “trials by fire” which decided whether somebody was a witch by chance and say, “Those days are over.”  But then, such people usually say that every war ever fought was always won by the right side.  In other words, they reject little lotteries as “deciding” things, but accept without question the notion that big lotteries and trials by fire called “wars” are accurate arbiters of justice.  To suggest that, say, the American Revolution, or World War I might have turned out better had they turned out differently is, for such people, almost like heresy.  Such an observation will not put an end to war.  But it may put an end to the notion that much has changed about our fallen race in 3,000 years.  And that, in its way, is progress.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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  • Guest

    Good point Mark