Sharing your bread with the hungry,
Sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
And not turning your back on your own. Isaiah 58:7
In today’s reading, Luke’s parable says both of these men are blood relatives, naming Abraham as their father. It paints a perfect picture of social injustice, an outright disregard for the law. Worse yet, it signifies the blatant avoidance of responsibility to the poor. Do we have to be rich and willfully negligent in our duty to our brother or sister before we break the law? I think this injustice touches most of us indirectly without our realizing it.
Many of us Americans are not wealthy by any standard. Most are merely trying to maintain jobs, pay bills, educate their children, all at a great expense. I will admit I was pretty self-centered before I went to Uganda, two years ago. I had an education, a job, a house, a savings account and a car. Before I spent time with a refugee group, I had no desire to go to Africa. Now I had a burning desire to see what had forced such beautiful, peaceful people to run for their lives.
There is not a lot I can do to help change the situation in places like Africa, but I can help a life or two. Now that I am cognizant of how desperate women are to get an education, I cannot blatantly ignore my sisters. I know the principal of a girls’ school in central Uganda. We correspond about the need for women to get an education to help foster a change in the system. Recently, I received two letters written by two of his best students.
One, Atim, describes herself as a ‘total orphan’, being raised by her grandmother, who has no money to send her to school. The second, Akoli, writes that she is a single-parent child of a widow who has now been inherited by a man who will not accept Akoli into the family. So she is shifted to her grandfather. The principal says the girls can do very well in science courses but due to the financial problems, their parents influence them to take on art courses which they feel they can afford but in the end have no future in their country. Furthermore, he sent copies of their grades to prove how promising their future is if only they receive help. I am hopeful that keeping both eyes open, I can find others who will want to help change a country, through these girls’ lives. Many private colleges in the US can cost upwards of $40,000 and more for a year. It costs $2,400 to get an engineering degree in Uganda, for five years of schooling. That is a pretty good return on your dollar.
Maxwell, their principal, says he has to be the voice for the voiceless. To me, he exemplifies that the love to which God calls us, should not be easy. If I am hearing the call to live a simpler life, might it make more sense to do it because I want to share my wealth with my sister/brother? For Jesus, wealth is not neutral and the poor are more than just a problem of allocating resources; rather, they stand as a constant challenge to serve others or our complacency. Use wealth compassionately and prepare for heaven on earth.
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