Thursday, January 14, 2010

Traps That Never Rust 1 -15 2010 Friday

Photo: Susan Ballmann

Read today's first reading (1 Samuel 8:4-7, 10-20a). Imagine yourself back in the prosperous days of the 1980s and the turn of the century. It is these days that have brought us to the painful days of the last couple years. This is a torture for many families that seems to have escaped those who control much of the American fortune. Yes, I do mean the Wall Street bankers, oops, I mean manipulators! Of course the passing over of many moons and the turning of calendar pages cannot be held responsible for a reversal that has brought so much suffering to many families.

The people of Israel were growing tired of their God as we read in Samuel's thoughts. The people of the eighties also seemed to be willing to forfeit the life of a true follower of Jesus. There were so many alluring gods that attracted even many of the truly faithful. Abundance, abundance, abounding wealth, McMansions growing like dandelions, record numbers from the Wall Street daily Stock Market report --- all of these contemporary gods had begun to pull people away from their God. Greed was, like a never before seen flower, growing among us and capturing so many hearts. How many were the prophets of doom, calling all of us to be careful and to be watchful. Worldly abundance was so different from spiritual abundance. Like the people of Israel, we were duped by the attractiveness, the comfort and the power from a record high DOW Jones average and unheard of heights for NASDAQ scores. There was so much power in the wealth we had found. Who really needed a God to tell us what to do?

From the gospel we learn about another kind of abundance and the fruitful ways of living in the abundance of love. In that beautiful landscape you will not find greed. It just will not grow there. And "there" is the kingdom of God among us. There is the forgiveness of sins. On that landscape the fare for all is the same ... rich or poor ... banker or borrower: show mercy to others especially those in need; let justice direct deals within the community.

What we see is that the world of God's kingdom is a reality where forgiveness is the frequent surprise. Greed opens the wounds; love is the divine healer.