Wednesday, June 27, 2012 -- Week of Proper 7, Year Two
Cornelius Hill, Priest and Chief among the Oneida, 1907
Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 973)
Psalms 101, 109:1-4(5-19)20-30 (morning) 119:121-144
[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]
It is a regular theme of Jesus' parables that in God's kingdom: Grace abounds. In many of those parables grace has an economic aspect.
It is a regular theme of the Hebrew scriptures that God loves the poor and expects God's people to care for them.
In Jesus' parables about the workers, though the workers come at all times of the day, even at the last hour, they all receive the daily wage that they need to provide for themselves and their family. It is an enacted version of the prayer "Give us this day our daily bread."
The parable works on both a plain and a metaphorical level.
Economic care and justice extends to the poor to insure that every person is paid what we might call today a "living wage." God's economy is generous toward the needy. All receive their daily bread; debts are forgiven.
The parable also communicates the metaphorical message that God loves all people and gives abundantly to the latecomer as well as the long-faithful, the prodigal and the elder son. The full acceptance, forgiveness and grace of God is always available and complete.
Like so many psalms, Psalm 109 sets up a plea for the poor and needy and an accusation toward those who fail to care for them, or worse, who oppress the poor. The series of bitter curses (optional verses) are directed toward an unknown oppressor, "Because he did not remember to show mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy..." The psalmist asks for and claims mercy from God, "For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me." This consistent message of the Hebrew scriptures is sometimes described as "God's preferential option for the poor."
What would our politics and economics look like if our values reflected the values of Jesus' parables and of the Hebrew scriptures?