My nephew is 50 and I sent him birthday greetings today. He has ridden the crest of the wave of prosperity in his country though not without hard work, risks and setbacks. He is not poor but he is not rich either. He has what he needs and this brings him happiness.
The environment is right for him. The country provided stability, credit and structure. The nation is at peace and the government is on its toes to respond to the voters. Elections are keenly fought, transparent and unchallenged. His two boys and a girl go to excellent schools which reward hard work and hard play. A variety of opportunities are open to them if they are ready to search.
It was not always like that. The country was a colony for centuries and its people oppressed – second class citizens. They struggled to be free and eventually succeeded a hundred years ago. With independence their home grown government floundered for a while, unused to the feel of power and untrained in the management of the economy. But the society was open and talent was able to rise and be heard. After drifting for decades the leaders found their feet. Imaginative people pushed on an open door; the economy boomed and the country flourished.
My nephew’s country is not the only one enjoying such fruits. There are others on the planet like his. Would that ‘others’ becomes ‘all’! It is obviously possible. If some can do it, all can do it. But there are blockages. There are leaders who do not open the door for their people because it will threaten their own position. There are international businesses, more powerful than nations, which exploit the vulnerability of governments – even developed ones.
To move toward universal prosperity – the kingdom Jesus announced as ‘among you’ – takes courage. It is the courage of the prophets like Ezekiel who we read this Sunday. He is to ‘warn the leaders in my name’. A tough call! Jesus widens the call beyond a few special prophets to all his disciples: ‘if your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him’. We are responsible. We are to announce the kingdom by how we live. God wants all his people to ‘enjoy the fruits’. But do we?
My nephew lives a dignified life. He has neither too much nor too little. His is the harvest others planted and cultivated. Now he is helping others.
6 Sept 2020 Sunday 23A Ezek 33:7-9 Rom 13: 8-10 Matt 18:15-20