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  • Gosford Anglican Blog

Living by the Grace of God

Then he looked up at his disciples and said: Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. ‘Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. ‘Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.’ (Luke 6.20-26)

Have you ever thought about the way the bible suggests that God is the great leveller of persons and communities? For example, in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Year of Jubilee, which came every 50th year, was the year for releasing people from their debts, releasing all slaves, and returning property to those who owned it. (Levitus 25:1-13) And the prophets like Amos derided those who lived off the fat of the poor: ‘Listen to this, … You make it hard for the poor. You crush those in need.’ (Amos 4:1) Jesus teaching is the same! Who are the blessed ones? The poor, the hungry, those who weep. Is it because they are the great reminders to us that we only have what we have because of the grace of God? Here is a vision of an economy turned on its head, that is, if we take the usual images of competitive capitalism as our norm. The vision of the economy of grace is a life of fairness, of justice, of charitas offered to all without regard to status. The kingdom of God, or we might say the economy of God, is non-competitive! And yet the history of the church tells us that Amos’ words are also words to us. The history of the church wrote H. Richard Niebuhr in the late 1950’s, is ‘the history of the religiously neglected poor’ compared to those ‘who rise in the economic scale under the influence of religious discipline and … freshly acquired cultural respectability’ and who in turn ‘neglect the new poor.’ We might ponder how this inequality has grown in Australia – the top 20% of income earners own 80% of the wealth! The words of Jesus however invite us to live in a remarkably non-competitive way. This way entails practices that are shaped by the loving of neighbour as oneself, by giving to others who are also children of God and seeking ways to live together into the stream of beatitudes or blessings. But we live too easily as those who expect that there will not be enough to go around! The sun and its fullness of giving is a common image in the Christian tradition for God and God’s economy. The sun and its fullness of giving happens without repletion. The sun remains resplendent however much it illuminates others and it only gets brighter as its light is reflected back on itself. We might think about ways we can love our neighbour this week, care for the poor, and spend time recalling daily that we live also by grace, and that all we have is gifted from God and that the ‘fullness of giving happens without depletion.’ Recall also that as we think of ‘economy’ we are also political people, people with a voice to those who make economic policy, health policy, and who have the wherewithal to support the poor, our sisters and brothers. It’s not about balance sheets but human care within the household (economy) of God. Fr Don

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