Written by Daniel Hazard
"Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep." Luke 6:20-21
Whoa Jesus. Whoa. What do you have against happy, healthy wealthy people? This is America for god's sake. What about all that stuff on faith, forgiveness and unconditional love? Stay on message, would you?
Besides, I'm not rich, Jesus. Bill Gates is rich. Oprah Winfrey is rich. Joel Osteen is rich. Barack Obama is rich. But not me. Sure, the fact that I have a car, a house, a refrigerator full of food and I never worry about where my next meal is coming from puts me in the top quarter of the world, but that doesn't qualify me as rich.
Are you some kind of socialist, Jesus? All this hoopla about abandoning material possessions, common ownership, universal solidarity, railing against the religious establishment, doling out free health care . . . . Are you aiming for a global redistribution of wealth? I hardly think that will solve anything. Millions of decent people will lose their jobs and then where will we be?
Be careful, Jesus. This kind of talk is mighty inflammatory. You seem like such a nice young man, I'd hate to see any harm come to you. Why don't you just focus on spiritual matters and leave economics to the experts. Keep your politics out of the pulpit. You're only going to anger people and if you alienate the rich, who's going to fund your ministry?
Get a grip, Jesus. Maybe you need to take some time off and recalibrate your message to something more in tune with reality. All of this "holy reversal" business will only come true by the grace of God and a total overhaul of the human heart.
Sincerely (reluctant to be) yours,
All of us
Empty us, Jesus, not only of our riches but also of our best ideas. Getting behind you yet again…
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.