I find it difficult to speak prophetically about any matters, really. I’m not very political, nor am I given to political debates. Yet, in the past, I’ve experienced some “social justice” homilies to be guilt trips and responded with resentment. I’ll bet some readers have had similar experiences.
I’d like to think that through some of this with you, or at least begin some sort of conversations, because the readings seem to beg for some other kind of response. What we’ll be left with, however, are more questions than answers…
First off, I recall a statement from one of my professors of philosophy at SLU, Vincent Punzo. This helps me contextualize my reactions: He said effectively, “Every affluent society experiences a guilt that’s connected directly with its privileged circumstances.”
So, when some homilists in the past have challenged me as well as others about wealth, it makes sense that I get defensive, right? It’s my knee-jerk reaction. Yet, what am I to make of this?
Second, can there be a more dramatic homily about the rich and the poor than what we have in our psalm today? Again, I can defend myself saying, “I don’t do any of those things, so obviously, these words are not directed to me.”
This puts me in mind of a stunning interview (from probably 20 years ago) with a Christian businessman who proclaimed how right it is to go after all the wealth you can. The interviewer asked, “But I thought the meek shall inherit the earth.” He seemed stunned. He recovered saying, “They will, but they’ll just have to work a bit harder for it.”
Here are two “take-aways” from today’s readings:
What are US Christians to make of the immediate and reactive response to biblical, prophetic speech about rich and poor? How can we hear such speech more clearly?
How do we stand before God in prayer and worship with a nagging suspicion that we do so with blinders on? What does freedom to worship really look like?
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