Psalms 118:1, 8-9, 19-21, 25-27
Matthew 7:21, 24-27
Generous to the Poor!
Today is the feast of St. Nicholas. He is a patron saint of Russia and of bakers. We know Nicholas as the model for Santa Claus. Just as Nicholas was generous and merciful with the poor, so too can we be.
You know our world is a fuzzy place now. How do we read the signs of the times, live the will of God, be just and merciful and trustful in terrorism times? We haven't had to worry about terrorism like a lot of the world until September 11th.
September 11th brings us new questions about poor: who are the poor now? We are poor, feeling the loss of our unbounded freedom even to the point of being searched or patted down by security people at our airports. That is a new poverty for us.
Are the Afghans poor? You bet they are: those refugees living in tents, people in bombed out cities, fundamentalist muslims whose narrow view of religion promotes violence.
Fundamentalism is a rigid religious viewpoint. Christians can be fundamentalist, too. Right now, though, we are concerned with fundamentalist Muslims who promote violence. Rigidity, no matter which religious persuasion, promotes ignorance beyond a small perception of life. Small perceptions are a poverty.
Now some of the poor among us, in our cities like Omaha and Detroit, are our Muslim sisters and brothers. Some blame them for the terrorism that is not theirs. Isn't that a great poverty?
What do Jesus and St. Nicholas remind us about today? "Trust
in the Lord forever for the Lord is our eternal rock" (Isaiah). "Those
who do the will of the Father in heaven will enter the Kingdom of God"
(Matthew). We are to trust that many Muslims are good and peace-loving.
We are to give generously to the poor and be just. We are to acknowledge
our own poverty now in this new time. We are to work to enlarge our
perspectives so we don't promote fundamentalism with our own small perspectives.
We need to listen to the poor around us and give generously with our hearts,
minds, and hands.
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