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Will We Take Hold of the Life that Really is Life?

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September 25, 2016 — Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Rev. Alison Quin

Today’s Readings:

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15
Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16
1 Timothy 6:6-19
Luke 16:19-31

Will We Take Hold of the Life that Really is Life?

Once there was a nation—a grand and majestic nation.  It was so rich in land and resources that it could easily support millions of people.  There was so much clean water that people actually bathed in drinking water.  The inhabitants called it the land of opportunity because there was enough and more for everyone to rise above poverty.

But after a while, the opportunities diminished because fewer and fewer people owned more and more of the wealth.  A great chasm opened up between the rich and the poor.  The richest 10% owned 75% of the wealth, while the poorest 40% owned only 0.3%.[1]  It was more unequal in this beautiful land of opportunity than in any other developed country in the world.[2]

The rich consumed four times as many luxury goods as any other nation in the world.  (A whopping $87.4 billion a year).[3]

The strange thing is, they didn’t seem to notice the poor at their gates:  the 43% of people living below the poverty level.  In the glittering cities, people often walked right past poor and homeless people begging for a few coins for a meal.  Some of the people begging were even veterans who had served their country, but people just didn’t seem to see them sitting there on the sidewalk.

In the rural parts of this great land, poor people were practically invisible, huddling in dilapidated houses and trailers wherever they could.  Often they did not know where their next meal was coming from.  Children paid the heaviest price for this great inequality—they were the most likely of all to be on the edge of hunger.[4]

The chasm between the rich and the poor grew wider and wider, and people did not seem to notice.  Many wanted to be rich themselves and fell into the trap of working harder and harder for things that would never satisfy them.  They set their hope on riches, instead of on God who provided them with everything they needed.  They forgot how to be content with the necessities of life, which God provided from the abundant land.

God saw this situation and heard the cries of the poor.  God was heartbroken at the great divide among the people.  It was a deep wound at the heart of the nation.  God cried out to people to open their eyes to the suffering of the poor.  God kept shouting warnings that pursuing wealth cannot bring joy or satisfaction or love.  God told people over and over that the desire for riches leads to ruin and destruction, a life of emptiness and despair.

God longed to gather up the poor and comfort them.  God also longed to gather up the people who had lost their way.  God was desperate for them to take hold of the life that really is life—the life of loving one another, working for the common good, and sharing generously whatever gifts God gave them.

Will we wake up in time? Will we hear God’s heartfelt cry and open our eyes to the suffering of others?   Will we change direction before it’s too late?  Will we take hold of the life that really is life?

NOTES:

[1] Economic Inequality:  It’s Far Worse Than You Thought, Scientific American, March 31, 2015, Nicholas Fitz.

[2] The US Is Now The Most Unequal Of All Developed Nations.  Huffington Post article, Feb. 7, 2013 by Eric Zuesse, citing UN statistics.

[3] Insider Monkey,  Feb. 2015.

[4] www.feedingamerica.org

 

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