Sermon for Oct. 28, 2022,
2nd Sunday closest to November 2nd
This week at school, I was interviewed by a member of the Yearbook Staff. One of the questions I was asked was, What is one topic that you could talk about for hours and are passionate about.
Well today’s Gospel Reading is one such topic: Economic Justice.
There are many different aspects that make up this topic, but for today I’m going to address Greed.
The people of Jericho were very upset with Jesus for not only acknowledging Zacchaeus, but also for staying at his house.
You see, Zacchaeus was a tax collector for the Romans. Hated throughout the land. Because he undoubtedly, had benefited from his position and most likely he had cheated and stolen money along his way as well.
So why did Jesus pick him out of the crowd, and tell him he must stay at his house?
According to an article I read in Kairos, “This short New Testament story speaks volumes to the church about the importance of a just distribution of wealth in our world.” “His encounter with Jesus was transformative; it gave him a new commitment to economic justice. Zacchaeus volunteered to give half of his wealth to the poor and to pay back anyone he had defrauded four times the amount he took unfairly.”
Who was this transforming for? Zacchaeus for sure, but what about for us, the reader?
Since the Pandemic, it seems that the Corporate world has been on a binge of Greed. How many of you have noticed the prices in the grocery store skyrocketing? Fuel Cost are through the roof. Housing costs up. Rental prices are unimaginable.
Many folks who work hard for a living are just scraping by, while corporations are making record profits. The unemployed or unemployable are victims of hunger, displacement, abuse, etc.
So as usual, as my directives from God often go, when I start to complain and whine about life, God somehow always turns it back on me, and says: What are you doing to help solve the problem? If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
I thought about people like Bill and Melinda Gates, who despite their personal lives and wealth and all they have, they have used their great wealth to help others. This is very inspirational to say the least.
I certainly don’t have their resources but I do have resources that I could share despite the high cost of living.
Like Jesus, I should celebrate the Transformation of Zacchaeus and people like him who see the light and become Christians in the way they are living. We must look past the past and walk with the new into the future.
I also believe that in light of the cost of living, I need to tighten my personal spending and give more to those in need. This could be money, but it could also be time, socks, blankets, water, volunteering, etc.
But then there is a bigger picture.
Our Gospel today challenges us to consider how just our society’s economic system is and the role we play in any injustices. In recent years, the rich have grown richer and the poor and not-so-poor have grown poorer.
This of course is a political issue and one that I should stay away from this morning, but it is an idea that I believe we should all explore and examine.
Are we willing to turn away from our Christian morals and responsibilities in favor of economic gains? That indeed is the question.
When is enough money enough? When are housing prices and rents high enough? Just because we can, should we?
I also see folks following leaders that despite their human qualities, say the right things and people are buying into it, just like another time in our history when a leader rose out of the desperation and became a murderous dictator.
There is danger in not acknowledging the truth.
The Church is a melting pot of financial situations. We don’t ask for a bank statement when someone wants to worship with us. We open our doors to a level playing field, because we know that God loves each of us equality despite the the size of our bank accounts. That is the beauty of a church like St. Marks.
However, God does commission us through our own baptism to take up the cross and do his work. That is our own transformation from who we were to who we are with Christ.
So the dilemma is, how can we each make a difference in this world of Corporate Greed? No easy answers for sure.
But I believe it is time for the people to take back our power and raise our voices shouting our displeasure when we can and where we can.
Each of us must examine our hearts and our minds and decide. Do we stand up for what we know is right? Or do we follow the crowd and participate in what we know deep in our souls is so very wrong.
Greed is alive and well in our community, our state and in our nation and in the world beyond.
What is your call to action?
For Zacchaeus, it was to first accept Jesus as his redeemer. Only then was he able to pay back the people he stole from and accept his Salvation through Christ.
Jesus came to seek out and to save the lost.
Are you lost or are you found?
What is your Transformation?