Today our readings speak to us about Humankind’s greed and God’s provision.
In the parable of the workers today Jesus makes the point that all the workers should get a living wage and that none should be denied the basic provision of life.
Over the years the Capitalist system has brought about great inequality in society by claiming some people to be more valuable than others. CEO’s and STOCKBROKERS earn a fortune while manual labour often don’t earn enough to feed their families.
The demand for higher wages has pushed inflation and our desire for more, more, more has made life so expensive that we can’t live sustainably and survive on debt.
In the Wilderness God made it clear that everyone no matter how much they collected would only have enough, and even those who collected little had enough. In the market everyone was given the same, and it was agreed that that came from a generous Landowner, not one who exploited the workers.
On God’s economy we get to live by need not greed.
In Egypt though slaves, the Israelites had lived in an economy of well-being. The Egyptians were wealthy, the Nile valley was fertile, the economy was strong, in fact they had everything they wanted except the ability to live a life of Worship. Seeking God put them at odds with the Egyptians.
When they wanted to seek God and not merely serve Pharaoh – that’s when the trouble started.
But the emphasis of the bible account is that what GOD gives us, is enough and that greed leads to most of our problems.
Now you probably immediately see a problem here because of our definition of enough.
There is a huge disparity in our society and the poor are expected to accept that what they have is enough but the wealthy are allowed to keep wanting more, that’s the problem.
the poor are equated to the grumbling servants in the Parable asking for more, the poor are equated to the grumbling in the dessert. But read the text – the people had enough in the wilderness they were provided for, the workers earned there days wage they were catered for – it was the provided for that grumbled and we need to be very careful of complaining out of greed. We live in a society that thrives on the desire for more, the greed thinking drives sales and production and imbalance and economic and environmental crisis.
Just think about the wealthy’s shopping habits, those who won’t wear the same dress in public twice and who would never be seen in last years fashion our way of life feeds off and drives the greed mentality. We need to repent and change our way of thinking.
As people of the kingdom we are clearly called to not exploit each other, the problem is that everyone has a different idea of what that means. What is a living wage? During COVID 19 people were promised R350 as a relief package. I can go and buy a loaf of bread and come away having spent more than that.
How are we going to overcome this tragedy in our country?
in one of my community profiles I am looking at the TRANSIT CAMPS CRISIS IN ISIPINGO (admittedly from a great distance at this point, but it is one of the things on my radar.It highlights the shocking housing policy that we have in this country.
Go onto any property search for Amanzimtoti and see what you can find for R3000.00 a month, or R6000.00 a month in Toti.
Where do people that only earn that amount live?
Where do the working class get to live? – we have a crisis on our hands.
Affordable housing is surely a necessity. Wanting a place to live is not a greedy request, and yet unless you earn R18,000 or more – where do you live?
We need to be challenging the Government. In the parable the denarius a day’s wages was a living wage ( I see some liberation theologians disagree) but the Jesus I know would not be saying the workers should accept exploitation – Jesus would be saying – do not be greedy.
Now I also don’t think that Jesus was encouraging laziness. Everyday there are a string of men who stand outside St Mary’s wanting piece jobs. They live in hope I tell you, because many of them are seldom employed, and believe me some of them are not worth employing because they are indeed lazy – I’ll be honest. But – Jesus is speaking to our greed.
In our context what would a living wage be, how much do you have to earn to have a home, pay for transport, eat, school your children. Our Current system is causing a huge disparity in our society.
Most people need cheap housing, free school, and a limited diet, to survive. Employment doesn’t solve that poverty cycle because your cost of living goes up if you work, just think of the cost of clothing?
My friends, how do we change this broken society where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. How do we the common Christian overcome the systemic greed that fuels corruption.
We need to change our mindset. We need to think about who we are in this story. We need to ensure that we are not grumbling – and that is hard to do. COVID 19 has caused many to lose their jobs take pay-cuts, stare retrenchment in the face. As I speak 38 of 96 clergy in this Diocese stand to lose their stipends. We had no increase this year and reduced EASTER OFFERINGS, most have already had their allowances reduced. So even for us as clergy this is not an academic conversation – but are we grumbling or are being realistic.
Life is getting expensive, there are basics that are UN-affordable. In our community we are really well off, meet those people in the transit camps living in absolute squalor, meet the people in the squatter camps, and they are there simply because of greed. The money that was allocated to them has been stolen and misused and redirected.
What is God saying to us today about what is required of us.
Live simply – care about others, stand up against corruption, treat others fairly, rethink the text.
Are you in Egypt standing against a corrupt government?
Are you with MOSES saying set my people free?
Are you in the wilderness grumbling against God, saying God did you bring us here to die?
Are you in the wilderness trying to horde the things God provides and ending up with holes in your pockets,
Are you trusting that God will provide.
Do not be exploited.
Do not exploit others.
Rely on God for provision, think about you finances prayerfully.
But most of all let’s become part of the solution. As the Ambassadors of the kingdom we are called to live exemplary lives.
Let us live simply, let us be grateful to God for His provision and let us life for Him, not for our selfish desires. Do not admire the rich, do not look down on the poor, but value life. Treat all people with dignity and let us together build a nation on the KINGDOM principles that the bible teaches us.
Seek Justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.
This is what you are called to.
And the God who has called you will not fail you.