The rich and the poor have this in common:
the LORD is the maker of them all.
I remember when I was a little kid, and my mom told me something that made me turn red in embarrassment. A simple, universal truth that made me really uncomfortable: I was born naked. And so was, it turns out, everyone else. Now as a dad, an uncle, and having been a chaplain in a children’s hospital, I can attest with no doubt: we were all born naked. With nothing. And totally dependent on others.
Quickly, though, even our tiniest babies are sorted into rich and poor. Even at a week old, we see who has the expensive clothes, the luxury stroller, and who may likely have access to better health care and better educational opportunities.
But did the Lord make us rich, or make us poor? In the first place, the Lord simply made us. The Lord made us humans, siblings in a holy family, all naked, all depending on the love and care of others. God made humanity. It was people who made money. God gave us an earth rich in resources. People decide how to share it, how not to share it.
When we look at anyone, others and sometimes even more difficultly ourselves, and see only “rich” or “poor,” we do not quite see one another as God intends. However, pretending rich and poor do not exist, that we are all the same, when the way we split up the riches of God’s world is not at all the same, is injustice pretending to be idealism. We have to acknowledge it. We have to deal with. The author of Proverbs does not deny it; they put it into perspective. We all have this in common: the Lord is maker of us all.
Knowing that God made us all, and that it is us, the humans (and how we treat one another) that made some rich and some poor is an uncomfortable paradox. But it’s a first step to finding things we can do in our communities and our world to share what the maker of us all made for all of us to share.
Creator, you made me and you made everyone I meet, everyone I see in my life, everyone I see in the news. Help me share what I love–whether it is money or talent or energy or creativity or compassion–with others. Help me be realistic about what I do not have in common with others, so I can be a part of your justice as I remember what we do have in common, that you made us all. Amen.
The Reflectionary is a series of short reflections based on one or two verses of each Sunday’s lectionary readings (the lectionary is a calendar of Bible passages used in Sunday services by hundreds of millions of Christians around the world) by the Rev’d Jean-Daniel Williams, the youth and young adult minister for the Montréal-Ottawa Conference of the United Church of Canada and the Anglican-United Christian Chaplain at McGill University in Montréal, Québec, Canada.