Thursday, August 10, 2017

Not like this.

August 10, 2017

Feast of Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr

Lectionary: 618

2 COR 9:6-10

PS 112:1-2, 5-6, 7-8, 9

JN 12:24-26


Yesterday was the anniversary of the dropping of the Fat Man on the Japanese city, Nagasaki.   Estimates as high as 80,000 deaths in the immediate fallout and the first three or four months of radiation poisoning and injuries. With everything going on in the news involving North Korea, I find it interesting that very few took the time to remember this horrific event.  We could spend all day discussing whether it was a necessary evil, or if lives were actually saved in the process by preventing an all out war, but I don’t think anyone would simply ignore a very large number of lives (many of them innocent) were snuffed out in this one moment in time.  

As I was sitting in the doctor’s office today waiting to be taken in for some blood work, I listened almost in horror to a conversation going on around me.  People were talking about how they thought President Trump should handle this North Korean crisis.  The overwhelming majority seemed to think he should just get as big a bomb as he can and wipe them off the face of the Earth.  Not just the dictator in charge, but even the women and children, regardless of who they are.  This is the world we live in.  Between the violent nature of our television shows, the plethora of video games that involve killing and murdering for sport, and the exceptionalism that runs rampant in our country, we have created a volatile situation where people can sit and have a casual discussion about wiping out an entire country (25+ million lives.)

Today’s readings remind us that it is not for ourselves that we are to live as Christians.  We are to be like the wheat that dies, sowing our own lives that others might live abundantly.  When we give freely of our time, talents, and treasures; we live an abundant life.  The life we were designed to live.  One of joy and contentment.  When we cling to what we have selfishly, to the point of being willing to kill those who have even less, just so that we can feel safe?  I don’t think that is in the heart of the gospel at all.  He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.  Why do we in many cases only see the poor as the ones who are our allies?  The ones who live around us or can give us something back?

I heard a man once tell his children that you only give money to those who can give you something back.  That when it comes to the poor on the streets, only those who are going to do a dance or play a song, or wash your windshield deserve to eat.  Those who cannot give you anything, he declared them unworthy of his hard earned money.  How happy I am that Jesus didn’t feel that way.   Why?  Because I didn’t do anything to earn His grace.  I can’t do a song that he didn’t inspire.  I can’t dance a dance without using the feet God gave me.  I have nothing to earn anything He has to give, and He would never charge for it anyway.  

Something does need to be done about this situation in Korea and the dictator in charge.  What?  I don’t know.  I am not a strategist or an analyst.   I am just a man who knows that his heart is heavy to think of murdering millions.   To think of men, women, and children; ones who had no choice in what country they were born, and in many cases no ability to leave, being killed along with those in charge.  All to make me feel safe.  All for my comfort.  Do I want to be safe?  Yes.  I want to feel safe in my own home. I don’t want to even start thinking about what a nuclear war would bring to this world.   But as one of my favorite lines in the Matrix goes, “Not like this, no not like this.”

When Saint Lawrence was told to bring all of his riches before the government and turn them over, he asked for a few days to prepare.   He then went out and sold everything the young church had to its name.  Then all money he gave to the poor, widows, and orphans.  He then returned to the Emperor with a cadre of the indigent and declared when asked where the riches were replied: “Right here.”  The riches of the church are in the outcast, the poor.   We should never forget that.