Daily Office Gospel Reading – Proper 29, Tuesday
Just yesterday, one of my coworkers and I were discussing the rise of crime in the last few decades. Since we’ve both lived abroad, we were able to discuss how in some countries, you could leave your children sleeping in a stroller outside, along with all the other children sleeping in strollers, and not have to worry. Or, even just 20 years ago, in some parts of the U.S.A. you could leave your house doors unlocked, your car unlocked, or could even keep a rifle in your unlocked pickup.
But now, most likely, things that remain unlocked will have items stolen, and children left outside unattended will be kidnapped and possibly sold into the sex-trade or something else equally heinous.
Now, we weren’t complaining about how the world has become worse or pulling any of the “Back in my day…” type comparisons because all in all, we still live in very safe environments in this country. Instead, we were discussing why we thought there has been a rise in these crimes.
One of the reasons, we thought, had to deal with greed, and how the changes in technology have given us the ability to become more aware of how others live, and what we believe others have. In other words, technology has made it easier for us to compare ourselves to others and to come up short. You just have to look at some of the most common TV shows to see how everyone seems to be living in luxury apartments and wearing designer clothes even though they work a minimum wage job or are unemployed for a time [for our age-group, the “Friends” show came to mind].
The Daily Office Gospel today tells the story of a wealthy young man who asks Jesus what he has to do to inherit eternal life, and when Jesus tells him to follow the commandments, he says that he has already done that. Then Jesus tells him that he should sell all that he has and give his money to the poor. It then says that the man “went away grieving, for he had many possessions.”
Wanting more and not wanting to lose what you already have are two sides of the same coin. Both ultimately come down to wanting to rely on ourselves rather than God. If we have plenty, then we often don’t feel like we need to rely on others for help (especially not God), and when we don’t have enough, we often want more, so that we can feel like we are not reliant on anyone else. Or, perhaps, we don’t want to admit that we need help from others, so we take matters into our own hands (enter theft, fraud, deception and destruction).
Being generous with what we have comes down to trusting God that He will provide for us no matter our circumstances. And it is only with that trust that we can also come to be content with what we have.