Last Sunday I mentioned that we describe God as Love, but that we should perhaps add to that description the word "abundance." Our God is Love and Abundance.
These two "Notions" with a capital "N" are intimately related. If a person who is a follower of Jesus focuses on how scarce resources are, as the disciples did when Jesus asked about feeding the large crowd, we will never really love, we will always hold back. It was not surprising when a child with five loaves and two fish shows up and offers what he had in faith and love. This is the chld-like faith Jesus is talking about when he says we must become like a child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
There's perhaps no more touching story than we have from Samuel this morning. David had arranged the death of Beersheba's husband Uriah so he could have her. From David is his time, to our own leaders today, it's thought that if only certain evil doers can be killed, or someone dies for our cause, it will bring the prosperity, peace, and freedom we long for. But, unfortunately, we are never satisfied, blood because the need for blood begets more blood. But back to the story: There's this poor man and his family who have a beloved lamb that they taken care of for some time, a part of their family, and there's a rich person who has flocks of lambs, and, when a guest shows up and the rich man wants to put on a nice lamb dinner for the guest, he has his servants go get the poor man's lamb and prepare it for the dinner! The poor are always called upon to sacrifice for the rich.
When this story is recounted to David, he is outraged! Who is this rich guy who did this! Bring him to me! But Nathan points at David and says "You. You are the man!" David is the one who scape-goated Uriah and ordered his death so he could have what he wanted or thought he needed. This pattern is repeated everyday in our world. It's not just a nice bible story of long ago. It's about today's world in which we live.
Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I annointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; I gave you you your master's house, and your master's wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little (scarcity), I would have added as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites (proxy killers). Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me . . . I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house.
David, like the rich man who took the poor man's lamb, took what was not his to take and ended up losing his wives and most of his wealth to others.
St. Augustine of Hippo once said: Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee, O Lord. But do we have to die before experiencing rest, the end, finally, of all our cravings? How can we be satisfied here and now, just like the crowd who ate and were satisified, with 12 baskets of left overs? It didn't take long and they were craving more: What "sign" are you going to do?, the crowd asks Jesus? He tries to tell them: I Am the Bread of Life. What did Jesus mean by that? Did he mean: I am the only one who can satisfy your cravings. Follow me into a non-violent way of life. I will be the only scapegoat you need. Do not require the death of anyone in order to find peace and real freedom. Live as simply as possible.
Someone wrote awhile back about the malady infecting our society today called Affluenza. One example in the article pointed out that our three car garages (about 900 sq feet) are about the size of an average house in the 1950's. In answer to happiness surveys taken for years, the highest percentage of people who said they were "very happy" peaked in 1957. The percentage of people describing their life this way has gone down ever since. We have garages full of stuff we never use or need. It doesn't satisfy. Terri and I had a huge "give away" at church and in our neighborhood. Now, many others have our "stuff." I hope that they will be happier, but I'm not really sure. Is this the real reason we wanted to come here to Guatemala? It might just be.
What's the bottom line- the Good News in all of this?
Could it be to realize as St. Paul did, that the only solution to our cravings is to be part of the building up of the body of Christ in unity and faith and knowledge of the Son of God. The teaching and example of Jesus appropriated through prayer. Live this way and the cravings that cause so much sadness, hardship, and use of the sword will subside. We're not talking about mass conversions to a religion, but a mimiced way of life. God is the "Father of all" making everyone our sisters and brothers. Only Jesus can and will satisfy all: baptized or not.