Sunday, 31 July 2016

This is what we are...What could we be?

Life is a continual struggle as we seek for and try to gain the things we need and want.  If we are goal minded then we are very much like the farmer portrayed in the Gospel who looks to a stable future and seeks to incorporate greater holdings and improve his infrastructure (Lk. 12.16-21).  We constantly seek to improve the things around us to improve the quality of life for our children and our friends.  Then the proverbial rug is pulled out from under us.  Some of us would begin to wonder about this passage in these terms as in today's world this would look like a common problem rather than greed, depending, of course, on the motivations of the person.

Just this week on the radio we heard of a similar situation in the dairy industry in WA.  Infra structure was put in to a farm on the expectation of a secure future but the rug was pulled out from under the farmer in terms of the closing of a contract for the supply of milk.  The portrayal of pretty well the same circumstances within the Gospel passage, of course not ending in the farmers death, although in some respects he thinks so, the death of his way of life.  In a manner of speaking greed may have been at the bottom of both events, but goal focus does not necessarily mean that there is greed in the heart of the person.  Yes, we must be aware of this aspect in anything that is goal focused but the event that is more important here is the event that is unforeseen.  It is the event of the unexpected within our lives, the future that rises up and bites us when we are expecting a pleasing and comfortable life.

In being goal focused, nothing wrong with that, we also need to be aware that we need the flexibility to cope with life. In putting into place those things that we would like to achieve, change, enhance, to make for a better life for ourselves (spiritual, mundane, work, play, etc) our task is to remind ourselves of the unexpected event.  The event we cannot prepare for no matter how we try, the event that disrupts our lives in ways that we cannot fathom.  In our 'greed', if that is what it is, for the betterment of ourselves and our families we need to stop and think how this goal focus can be so easily disrupted.  In focusing our goal within the secular and the mundane, which we all do, in one form or another in our current world view, we neglect the very things that are likely to disrupt the focus of our striving.

Focus our needs not in greed but in relationships.

Often the event that calls to us and occurs in our lives in such a manner that it disrupts us to the point of total frustration we turn to anger, malice and disruption of our own relationships.  It is at this point that we need to understand that it is we who are being called to change not the other.  It is we who are being challenged by the presence of Christ, we who are being asked to become like Christ (Col 3.9-10).  In answering God's call upon us we need to become open to the Spirit that blows through our lives.  It is our failure but also our opportunity when we begin to realise that it may be God who is opening up our lives and leading us into newness of life.  Instead of anger and frustration, the natural consequence of our plans going AWOL, we need to re-integrate our relationships so that they become community to us and we become community to others.

It is not that we have been selfish but that we often focus ourselves too much and neglect the realisation that it is community that sustains us. This passage reminds us that the call of the other on our lives often disrupts our own plans.  Instead of becoming complacent within our own planning we need to open ourselves to the presence of God's call and admit others into our lives.  In doing so we achieve more than our dreams as we help others to achieve the dreams that they dream at the same time.  By hoarding our wealth (knowledge, presence, financial, food, etc.) we deny the presence of the other as we fail to share and thus form relationship.  It is in our ability to share the little that we have that grants us access to the multitude of God's love that we find in interacting with the other. The need and our underlying instinct to hoard is an instinct to obtain power over others by removing or limiting a supply for the other.

It is this power over that is found in greed that is decried by God and Christ.  In achieving power over we automatically see the other as a commodity not a person or the other with whom we relate.  This can be seen in the trafficking of people which is the result of greed.  We can see it in academia where an academic does not allow access to work but keeps it for themselves.  As we come to understand our own appetites we start to recognise where we are greedy and where we are despoiling our own relationships by striving for power over.  Christ calls us to account for our relationships not to become so focused that we miss the opportunity to create community rather than enhance our own shaky greed.

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