A guest post from the Revd Ron Keynes. (Pentecost 23, Year B: Ruth 3:1-5; 4:3-17; Mark 12:38-44)
There is often a fairly strong reason why Christians are often charged with being ‘against the world’ and somewhat troglodytic. I have mentioned elsewhere something of the struggle even with my children, as they tend to belong to a later generation, not quite up to X. However, there has been some rethink by younger people as the World Financial Crisis has done its job in bringing some factors back to balance, and Global Warming perhaps adding to the rethink.
If there is one aspect of life that tends to be reflected in almost all cultures and countries, it is the determination of the powerful ones to advertise both their power and wealth and demanding all the best that the country has to give. Even some religious people fall victim (or demand the position) and become very much a part of the problem. As the Gospel reminds us, in Jesus’ day the practice was rampant. Today’s world tends to have it in terms of salaries and perks of CEOs, where the matter is totally beyond reality.
Contrast that, if you will, with the story of Ruth and Naomi, a beautiful and moving tale of tragedy and ill fortune, made remarkably more touching by the commitment of daughter-in-law (of a different race!) to a mother of her late husband. There is a story of quite lovely proportion, of self-giving quite beyond the norm. It was a most moving moment when, at our youngest daughter’s wedding, this passage was chosen as one of the readings. ‘There was hardly a dry eye in the house.’
I wonder whether the rich and powerful ever stop to ponder what is important in life, and what is marginal. I have to say that my experience of ‘pretty people’ is that such a title is a misnomer of the first order, and selfishness and refusal of ordinary human responses is obligatory. On the other hand, ordinary little people seem to have a far more balanced perception of what is important and what is not. And are not the basics of life really quite simple and uncomplicated? Or am I fooling myself?
The reason that Christians tend to be so against today’s life-style of self-aggrandizement is that it leaves almost every other person right out of the equation. Bugger you Jack, I am all right. And it does not need to be the ‘high and holy ones’ who have such a blind stare. Do you not meet, constantly, even little people who demand their priority with great rudeness and pomposity?
Life’s reality does have a habit of blowing down our proud houses of cards every now and again. And it all comes back to the business of what is true and just, for those capacities have a habit of returning from the dead. It is not all that long ago that the film ‘Greed’ was greeted with yells of delight. And it did not take long for the outcome of that pattern to blow up in everyone’s faces.
Life is for everyone, not just a favoured few. Faith is for everyone too, though there seem to be rather fewer takers, for some reason. Peace and even prosperity is far more likely to ensue when the gentler path is chosen by all. And there can be little fight against that!