Our Throwaway Society
Our recent scripture readings have been about how well we use the blessings with which we have been blessed and how unwilling we are to share our blessings with those less blessed.
The prophet Amos tried warning the people of his times about the consequences of the injustices they practiced toward the poor – those who trample on the needy and bring to ruin the poor of the land; those who enjoy the good life with no thought of the needs of the poor.
The rich man in today’s gospel was not a mean man. He didn’t chase Lazarus from his door; he didn’t set the dogs on him. He was just oblivious of Lazarus, gave no thought of his hunger and desperate situation. It was for his lack of awareness, his unconcern for the needs of others and his lifestyle of self -indulgence that brought him to hell fire.
As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amos preached 2400 years ago; Jesus taught 2000 years ago and here we are now and as anything changed? The rich get richer the poor get poorer.
Remember the movie Wall Street and the famous quote – greed is good? That mentality is still with us. I recently read an article that claimed that none of the executives involved in the financial crashes that put us in our present global financial instability have ever gone to jail. Banks and investment firms have been fined hundreds of millions of dollars but no executive has gone to jail.
We all know the world is divided between the half’s and the have not’s. We are part of the haves but in our own parish, in our own city there are the haves and the have not’s. The need for food banks have moved beyond the 416 areas to the 905 areas. The welfare rolls are growing. Calls to raise the minimum wage go unheeded. The highest percentage of unemployed is among the young. Corporations only hire part time or contract staffs to avoid health care and pension plans. The working poor are in our own community.
Ours is an unfair, an unjust world. Everybody knows our church’s teachings about sex but how many of us are even aware of our church’s longstanding teachings about social justice?
Years ago Pope Paul V1 taught us, “ It is not simply a question of eliminating hunger and reducing poverty. It is not enough to combat destitution, urgent and necessary as this is. The point at issue is the establishment of a human society in which everyone, regardless of race, religion, or nationality, can live a truly human life free from the bondage imposed by men and the forces of nature not sufficiently mastered, a society in which freedom is not an empty word, and where Lazarus the poor man can sit at the same table as the rich man.”
Just recently Pope Francis visited the island of Sardinia a site of vast income inequality between its cities and resort beaches. The island has been a location for massive protests against extreme European budget cutting that is affecting the lives of millions, especially the young
Speaking to a crowd of thousands Pope Francis condemned the idolization of the “god of money.” “To defend this economic culture, a throwaway culture has been installed,” he said, “We throw away grandparents, and we throw away young people. We have to say no to this throwaway culture. We want a just system that helps everyone.” Life is not fair to so many people, here and elsewhere.
On TV and in the newspapers we see and read about the daily tragedies in our world. We see the starving, the poor, we see those driven from their homes by war, we see the devastation caused by raging flood and forest fires. The danger is that we can become desensitized to these tragic realities. Today`s scripture is a warning to all of us that we do not become like the rich man who feasted sumptuously every day and who was completely oblivious to the plight of poor man at his gate.
We are our brother`s our sister`s keeper. I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink, naked and you clothed me, a stranger and you took me in, sick and in prison and you came to me. Come blessed of my Father for you were sensitive to my needs, aware of my pain, concerned about needs. Come blessed of my Father you were willing to share, you were anxious to care.
You good people have been so generous to the many calls that come our way for your help. Your response to our food and clothing drives, your constant support of the Good Shepherd Refuge and our St. Vincent de Paul, our Refugee Committee, our Just Coffee Program – all these show what generous people you. But today`s scripture calls us all to a holy discontent to the way things are in society. Each one of us, in whatever way we can must work for justice, for without just there is no peace. We say no to tight fisted, small minded politicians who try to set us against one another and have us blame the victim.
In one of his letters Paul encouraged the people saying, `never grow weary of doing good. `May we never grow weary of hearing the cries of our poor and hungry and oppressed brothers and sisters – be they near or far. May we live simply that others may simply live.