On that day…
Ninety years ago on this day, Oct. 18, 1931 American gangster Al Capone was successfully convicted for tax evasion….
Alphonse Gabriel Capone, a.k.a. “Scarface,” “Big Al,” “Big Boy,” “Snorky,” and “Public Enemy No. 1,” was born January 17, 1899 in Brooklyn, New York. He died January 25, 1947 (age 48) in Palm Island, Miami Beach, Florida. Capone was a gangster, bootlegger, racketeer, and known infamously as Boss of the “Chicago Outfit,” and for the bloody “Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre” which resulted in the daytime murder of seven rival gang figures. After evading numerous criminal charges and a seven-year stint as a crime boss, Capone was finally imprisoned 11 years (age 33) on Oct. 18, 1931 under five counts of tax evasion.
Though he did contribute to charities, Capone also lived in luxury, power, and self-indulgence from the wealth of his crimes, but his last days were days of misery caused by syphilis and dementia. Now his soul is in eternity where he faces his Maker and gives account. I wonder what he now thinks of the life paths he once chose?
Bewildered by the prosperity of the wicked the psalmist Asaph confessed: “…my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Ps. 73:2-3). “I’ve kept my heart pure and innocent for nothing!” he almost laments. (v. 13).
But then Asaph regained true perspective: “When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply,” he writes, “till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” (v.16-17).
“Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.” (v.18-20).
James also speaks to the ultimate end of those who abuse others for temporal gain:
“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.” (James 5:1-6)
We must not be allured from the paths of righteousness by the apparent rewards of transgressors. Their stories have not yet been fully told. But “the path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day” (Prov. 4:18), and “God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Eccl. 12:14).
I wonder… on that day… what will you think of the life paths you are now choosing?