Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? ~ James 2:5-7
Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."
Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'
"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '
"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'
"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." ~ Luke 12:13-21
"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." ~ Mark 10:25
We're all outraged at the rich right now. The AIG whizzes who collect bonuses for badly investing funds. The legislators who, in 2000, passed the laws that made it easy to badly invest funds. Bernie Madoff and all the folks who trusted him with the funds with which he made off. Paris Hilton for feeling violated that someone made off with her cell phone.
How about being mad at ourselves, too?
We're wealthy beyond words, each one of us who owns a computer in order to read these words formed by the pixels. We do precious little or nothing to relieve the suffering of the poor on other continents who can't read and don't have computers - or food or potable water - but perhaps do have malaria or AIDS.
The Lord's brother would say we have insulted the poor, I think.
And Jesus Himself, I believe, would say we are making it nigh-on to impossible for ourselves to enter the kingdom of God.
May God help us all.
And forgive us.
- After we've shown that we're willing to do much, much, much better.