Mark 13: 24-37

The American politician, lawyer, and orator R G Ingersoll once described hope as “the universal liar”[1]. In a similar vein, the poet and lyricist Burton Baldry said that hope was nothing more than “disappointment deferred”[2].

A cursory look at the world today would seem to bear out these rather gloomy sentiments. When we look at the so-called Arab Spring of a few years ago, and how it has collapsed into civil war, religious extremism, and political oppression; when we look at the ongoing struggle to contain the e.bola outbreak in Western Africa; when we contemplate the long term effects of climate change upon the whole planet; even when we examine matters here in Australia, where there is widespread cynicism and apathy about our political and social institutions, and as a society we seem incapable of humanely and justly addressing issues of equity and disadvantage, one might see all around causes for despair. Continue reading “Mark 13: 24-37”

Matthew 25: 31-46

During my preparation for Christ the King Sunday, I came across a reflection entitled the Feast of Christ the Comrade, in which the following observations appeared:

People today find Kings and Queens quaint. Royals are at best wonderful distractions…they get a giggle, but they are not going to save us in from the terrors of the night and the toppling of all that we believed would be there forever.

That is why I am appealing for a new look at this Jesus. Not Jesus the King but Jesus the Comrade.

The Monarch is the one who sends you into battle, who commands and demands your loyalty without ever really standing with you and alongside you. Kings have blood on their hands but it isn’t theirs. This righteous, judgemental monarch, how does he in any way resemble the Jesus whom I meet in the dark nights of my despairing?

If I look closely at the Gospel for this Sunday I see not a distant detached King but a Comrade who is hungry, thirsty, a stranger who is naked, sick and in prison. I know of few kings or queens who have first-hand experience of that.

Jesus my Comrade is the one who comes to me when I am hungry even after my lovely home cooked meal, thirsty after my bottled Evian water, a stranger in my home town, naked in my designer labels and in prison whilst speeding down the freeway.[1]

Continue reading “Matthew 25: 31-46”

Matthew 25: 14-30

I’m reading a rather weighty tome at the moment entitled Capital in the Twenty-First Century by the French economist, Thomas Piketty. The central thrust of this book is that capitalism in the industrialised West has now come full circle, and we are once again in a situation very much like that which prevailed in the 18th and 19th centuries. That is to say, in an age of low population growth and economic growth, and in which government takes a very “hands off” approach to economic policy, those people who are the beneficiaries of inherited wealth are able to grow their wealth at a rate faster than that at which the economy as a whole is growing. The result is increasing inequality between those whose income is derived from labour and those whose income issues from their wealth: the former expend almost all their income on the necessities of life, with very little left over to accumulate savings; while the latter are able to plough most of their income back into growing more wealth. As Piketty notes, the only difference between the 21st and the 18th centuries is that, whereas this inherited wealth once came from land ownership, it now derives from ownership of corporate and financial instruments. Continue reading “Matthew 25: 14-30”