Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This Thanksgiving

President Obama in his Presidential Thanksgiving Day Proclamation states:

This harvest season, we are also reminded of those experiencing the pangs of hunger or the hardship of economic insecurity. Let us return the kindness and generosity we have seen throughout the year by helping our fellow citizens weather the storms of our day.

I totally concur with the President. I listened last night to parish representative after parish representative speak to the efforts they are taking to feed the homeless and offer a Thanksgiving meal to people in need of both shelter and food. +George Councell thanked all of us in the convocation for our acts of kindness and service to Christ's gospel.

Here's something that frustrates me though... as I'm sure it has frustrated Christians down through the centuries. Why does the common person have to take care of another common person when wealthy institutions and organizations pay so little attention to the needs of the poor. Robert Scheer writes:

The assumption of both the Bush and Obama administrations was that what was good for the banks would be good for the general economy, but just the opposite has happened. While the financial sector flourishes, the economy stagnates. As The Wall Street Journal reported in its story on the release of the Fed minutes: "Federal Reserve officials downgraded their outlook for the U.S. economy ... projecting that the jobless rate could exceed 8% for two more years and that it won't return to its former vitality for five years or more."

Jesus Christ offered his life to people in need. His acts of mercy, his rejection of Pharisaic oppression, his opposition to Caesar's taxation, his death on the cross, his resurrection from the Easter Day tomb all point towards the creation of a Reign of God that stands in such a marked contrast to what contemporary capitalism stands for today. A friend of mine commented on my Facebook page:

The Corporate world has replaced the Tzars, Kings and other powers who had the royalty and the peasant. We now have the corporate world with the rich and the rest of us. We get what falls from their table. Even with better economic conditions for us generally, we are still people who live and behave strictly for our self interest.

Is Ben+ correct? Is CitiBank the new Caesar. Is the Church the present-day Christ who stands in opposition to the economic rules governing our financial behavior? Is the Church the present-day Christ who cries out for the poor among us and calls for institutional change as well as for individual acts of kindness? I have a credit card. I will enjoy the security of a job in the warmth of worship in a parish tomorrow morning. We will collect perishable food items to share with our neighbors. Nonetheless, the system on a broader scale will seemingly not change.

Jesus, in the Gospel According to John, says: For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

We need Christ's bread more than ever these days. We need his presence to push back as best we can with calls for justice and fairness. We need his desire to care for hungry people. Many of our neighbors, need us to give thanks of what we have by offering it to them. We need corporations to think of their stakeholders in a different way - a way that keeps people in their homes, skilled laborers employed, children in school, and forgiving debts to those who have been mistreated. These changes in capitalistic behavior may not come quickly; so we who are The Church, must bridge the gap as Jesus the Christ does for us with hopes for a better and more holy tomorrow

Blessings Along The Way and Best Regards for a Happy and Holy Thanksgiving.

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