Dear People of God,
The economic crisis, or whatever people are calling it today, is frightening for all of us. The mammoth bail out afforded to "Wall Street" has not seemed to bring a sense of relief to the average person. In fact, it may have fueled suspicions that our Congress, in passing restrictive personal bankruptcy legislation in 2005 but a $700 billion bailout in 2008, has shown it is more interested in helping predatory lenders than the average person. Compounding that is the fact that the single most frequent cause of personal bankruptcies are medical bills, a situation caused by another crisis-that of the millions of Americans who are under or uninsured for health care. While we are told things would become much worse for most Americans if the lending freeze wasn't mitigated in some way, still it seems the average person is left at the mercy of some very fundamental wrongs in our country today. Government has acted slowly to correct those wrongs, and sometimes has made them worse, unless those needing help are the moneymen. Now we face heating season, rising unemployment and so the anxiety level can grow quite high.
Jesus didn't give us explicit instructions for situations like these. But the scriptures and in particular his teachings are very money and justice conscious. The Bible prohibits usury- the charging of any interest especially to the poor, and the Christian tradition, as articulated in the early councils as well as by Thomas Aquinas, forbade it. Yet in spite of the willingness of the so called Christian right to attempt to enact legislation to enforce their views, I have never heard of any attempt on the part of such churches to protest or legislate against the destructively high interest rates being charged by credit card companies or mortgage lenders.
Jesus' teaching to not be anxious about such things may seem a little unwelcome right now. We are unsure what we should do to protect ourselves and our futures, so at least if we are anxious we are responding in some way! But Jesus is right; being anxious never changed anything for the better. This is time for clear and clear priorities- and high anxiety inhibits both. This is the time to remember that while the world will throw us curve balls, God is constant. God knows our needs before we ask, and what we need is God. We are in his hands at this time, as in all times.
I pray that those who are least able to absorb the impact of what is happening now be preserved and protected. I pray that those who govern do so with wisdom and a commitment to the common good. I pray that those who may be motivated by greed be relieved of their influence and power. May we not be so absorbed with our own fears that we forget the needs of others.
Mo. Susanna +