Sunday, September 07, 2014

Civil Unrest & Terrorism

Civil Unrest and Terrorism
In God We Trust

So says the coinage of the Republic. 

The collect of the day teaches us to trust in God with all our hearts. And there are two reasons for that; firstly, God resists those who put their confidence in their own strength, and secondly, God never forsakes those who make their boast in the mercy of God.

Certainly we see evidence of that in Sacred History. Today, for instance, in our First Lesson we read of God’s ordinance regarding the institution of the Passover meal. The ritual of Passover is a reenactment of the means by which we came from slavery to freedom.

Blacks were slaves in America, Irish were slaves in Ireland, and the British were slaves in their homeland as well if we go back far enough in history. I was surprised to learn that the stirring words of Rule Britannia, a grand national song the British sng a the conclusion of the Proms in London include the words; “Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.”
Rule Britannia!
Britannia rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
Ah there’s nothing quite like the Proms. We have the Pops, but the British have the Proms. Either way what fun!

In the history of all people, if we go back far enough, we will discover that we were all slaves at one time or another. We were and are in turn, also oppressors. It is in the nature of Sacred History that God will choose a Moses who will go to every Pharaoh and say; “Let my people go!” 

Most economists note that in the current history of America, the only place where income in increasing significantly is in the top 1% of the population. You will remember that Pharaoh was worried about the number of Hebrew people in the land and decreed that the male children would be killed. One of those children got away as we already know from the cycle of readings around the life of Moses. 

Then there were too many Hebrew children, now we have millions of illegal aliens and children without parents invading our shores from Central America. Like we did when the Irish and the Italians who invaded before them, we posture ourselves politically against the inevitable. 

People go to Pharaoh again and again seeking a place in the sun. Whether it is citizenship or a raise in the minimum wage or just a job, the powerless will always be met with the same response from those with the power. NO!

I see slavery in our young people today here at home in America, and abroad as well. I ache for our young people, whether in the teeming inner cities of our nation, in rural areas or the middle east. If they do not have an opportunity to find their way toward economic freedom, they will be forced into a life of crime, waste away into a life of drugs abuse, or turn to a life of violent terrorism, which at least promises them all the rewards of heaven. 

I would argue that it is a dangerous posture for us to allow our young to languish in a kind of modern variation of slavery and oppression. I’ve spent a lifetime in the cities and in the rural areas of this country and I can tell you chapter and verse about the hopelessness of these young people.

Take away hope, and you take away everything. If you grow up in my family or in my church you will find out it what it is like to be loved and educated and equipped for life in this world. You will make a contribution to the creative, redemptive and sanctifying work of God. If you grow up in my home, God help you!

What does our Catechism teach us about the Five Mighty Acts of God? Yes, you all know them, of course. They are 
I. The Creation
II. The Exodus
III. Jesus Christ
IV. The Church
V. The Christian Hope

That’s the foundation of all faith. God created us. God brought us out of slavery and into freedom. God sent Jesus to be for us the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus gave us the Church as the Community of Faith where we might live out our faith. And The Resurrection of Jesus establishes the Hope in which we all live both in this life and in the life to come.

If you take away our hope, or if you take away the church or Jesus, if you take away a sense that God has made us, then, sure as Mike, we’ll fall back again into slavery. I suspect that many of our young people are losing all sense of meaning, purpose and perspective in life. If there are no jobs, if there is no future, no purpose, then there is crime and drugs. 

If there is no hope for the young in the Middle East, they become prime targets for those who wish to wage Jihad or “Holy War” against the Western World. After all, the Western World has turned toward secularism and away from God, and though I understand why many turn away from religious zealots.

What I do not understand though is the growing concentration of wealth in the few. I object to the redistribution of wealth from the the 99% to the 1%. It is a posture of greed. A posture of greed is very dangerous both domestically and internationally. In today's Gospel, Jesus teaches us to take the case directly to the one who sins against you. If that doesn’t work bring a few respected leaders with you and seek some kind of accommodation. If that doesn’t work set the matter before the church and if that still doesn’t work treat the offender as you wold a tax collector. 

The tax collector was usually the richest man in town and treated as a pariah. He was among the most despised in all in the Ancient Near Eastern world. I hope you appreciate the exquisite irony in that the writer of this Gospel story was himself a tax collector. He knew what it was like to be treated as a social pariah.

All except for Jesus, who looked at Matthew, the tax collector, with compassion. He treated him as a human being and as a child of God. Jesus had no money and lived on a subsistence level. All we know about the taxes that Jesus paid was that famous quip from the 22nd Chapter of the Tax Collector’s Gospel where Jesus was given a coin with Caesar’s image imprinted on it. Jesus said; “Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and give to God what belongs to God.”

Apparently Matthew thought that much more than wealth belonged to God. The encounter he had with Jesus turned his whole life upside down. He found his reason for living. He discovered what Justice and fair play meant. He found forgiveness, reconciliation. Above all, he found the love of God.

In Matthew’s Gospel, we are told the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard. Apparently there were those standing idle early in the morning, and the landowner put them to work for the agreed daily wage. Likewise at 9 o’clock he went out and there he found more standing idle. Again he agreed to send them out to work and pay them fairly. He went out at noon and at three in the afternoon and he put them to work with the same promise of a fair wage. Finally at 5pm he still found those standing idle and put them to work again agreeing to pay them what was fair. 

When the time came to pay the laborers they all got a full day’s wage. A storm of protest erupted, since those who had worked the whole day could not understand why they would not be paid more than those who had only worked an hour. 

There are way too many standing idle in our inner cities, our rural areas and in the hot bed of conflict in the Middle East. Such idleness will give rise to crime, drugs, and international terror.

To my way of thinking there is a connection between the unrest we have seen this summer in Ferguson, Missouri, and other urban and rural areas of America and international terrorism. 

If we let our young people stand idle in the marketplace, a vacuum will be created that is worse than slavery. It is the vacuum of hopelessness. Nature abhors a vacuum. It must be filled with something. Domestically it seems to be filled with crime and drugs. Internationally it seems to be filled with the hope of heaven given in the delusional teachings of ultra radical Islamic terrorism. 

Obviously Moses, Jesus and Mohammed abhor slavery, injustice, and violence. All three believed and taught that God is the creator, the Law Giver, the All Loving and the All Merciful.

The Great Souls all teach us of The Dream of God. A dream where there is Freedom with Law, Justice, Mercy and above all, a Love between and among brothers and sisters. I think this is what Paul was trying to say in today's Epistle. That's what it all boils down to; "Love one another"!

This is our Dream too. The Dream will not come true until we Proclaim the Gospel of God's Love with courage and determination.

This is the Dream of God.

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