Sirach 31:12-31: Inequality
A Favorite from June 12, 2009.
Upon the recommendation of a friend, I am reading Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder about Paul Farmer, a physician who is saving bodies and souls in Haiti against all odds. As a coincidence, yesterday a photograph of a Haitian child arrived who is not starving this year because of a modest contribution I made to his church through my own parish. He wears a pink shirt open at the neck . . . and he is not smiling. We have fed the stomach but have we answered the cry of his soul?
Paul Farmer lives out his call in a way that few of us are able; but I am not thinking about that kind of inequality today. Nor am I thinking about guilt or gluttony or inebriation. I am thinking about inequality and what each of us might do to lower obstacles so that we might all see what happens in the mountains beyond mountains of our world. One of the gifts of the internet is a glorious burgeoning of micro loans from one of us to another all around God’s blue/green globe. This seems to me to be the hand of God’s Spirit at work. Another gift of the internet is the way in which light permeates darkness, and the way in which the darkness exposes itself. It becomes more and more difficult to hide when this electronic presence can pierce the thickest fog and travel the roughest terrain with no effort.
What do we do about the great and small inequalities of life? We address them with the greatness and the smallness of our own bounty. Even the tiniest of ceramic shards is needed to create a mosaic depicting God’s glory. And even the smallest of these slivers is important . . . for without that one sliver the total is incomplete.
Jesus ben Sirach calls us to think about small, every day matters in big ways. The life of Paul Farmer does the same. Rather than become frustrated about the inequalities before us, we might address them even in the smallest of ways.
Rather than curse the darkness, we have learned to light one small candle. Rather than succumb to the avarice and addictions of the world, we have learned to lend one tiny gesture, send one small check which calls us to sacrifice from our needs rather than our wants. These gestures and prayers rise to God like incense in the night, and in God’s hands they are capable of toppling tyrants. These are the acts that dispel the darkness and free souls from captivity . . . for they are acts of God . . . carried out by good and faithful servants.
For another reflection on Farmer, enter his name in to the blog search bar and explore.